Material Speculation is a digital fabrication and 3D printing project by Morehshin Allahyari that inspects Petropolitical and poetic relationships between 3D Printing, Plastic, Oil, Technocapitalism and Jihad.
“Material Speculation: ISIS” is a 3D modeling and 3D printing project focused on the reconstruction of 12 selected (original) artifacts (statues from the Roman period city of Hatra and Assyrian artifacts from Nineveh) that were destroyed by ISIS in 2015. “Material Speculation: ISIS” creates a practical and political possibility for artifact archival, while also proposing 3D printing technology as a tool both for resistance and documentation. It intends to use 3D printing as a process for repairing history and memory.
Material Speculation: ISIS, goes beyond metaphoric gestures and digital and material forms of the artifacts by including a flash drive and a memory card inside the body of each 3D printed object. Like time capsules, each object is sealed and kept for future civilizations. The information in these flash drives includes images, maps, pdf files, and videos gathered in the last months on the artifacts and sites that were destroyed. These materials were sourced by an intense research process involving contacting different archeologists, historians, and museum staff (from Mosul Museum to archeologists and historians in Iraq and Iran).
On February 26, 2016, Allahyari published one of her reconstructions from “Material Speculation: ISIS,” as well as a dossier of her research, as part of Rhizome’s series The Download. Through this commission, her object file for King Uthal was made openly available to anyone for 3D printing.
She is currently working on finding a platform/museum for the release and the preservation of all the digital files and models from this project.
*Special thanks to Pamela Karimi, Christopher Jones, Negin Tabatabaei, Wathiq Al-Salihi, Lamia Al Gailani Werr for their help with research.
*Special Thanks to Shannon Walsh, Shane O’Shea, Sierra Dorschutz,Patrick Delory, Christian Pramuk, and Mariah Hettel for their help with 3D modeling.
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The dead drops (2017) are an extension (though not formally a part) of Morehshin’s Material Speculation: ISIS series. The three heads in the series are reproductions of reliefs that were originally located at the ruins of Hatra, an ancient city in Iraq (image here) in South Ivan. Hatra was one of the ancient sites targeted by ISIS, and in 2015 a video was released of a fighter shooting these heads with an AK-47. These heads were above ground and visible in ancient times. They survived for thousands of years in the open air. Gertrude Bell photographed them in April 1911 before major excavations took place at Hatra. Each dead drop contains a USB drive, which the viewer can connect to in order to download Morehshin’s openly available research material (images, maps, pdf files, and videos) in addition to the 3D printable object file of the piece King Uthal, one of the reconstructions from her Material Speculation: Isis series.