Gottfried Huettemann

Even cheap scanners can be used to make high-resolution images of three-dimensional objects and pictures. Some older, bulkier scanners are better than newer machines, as their lenses produce more depth of field than their modern, compact cousins. You can use 600, 1200, or 1600 ppi scans made using a high-end book scanner or a cheap mass-produced machine to make high quality digital or photographic prints measuring up to 40 x 60 cm, or even larger.

Once you have placed your (not too bulky) object on the document glass, you will need to experiment with the background. If you are working in a darkened room, you can scan with the cover open and without using a background. If there is a risk of stray light reaching the object table, you can use black card or a black velvet cloth to cover your object.

The images shown here are scans of small (eight to ten-inch) sculptures made from a type of elastic modeling clay that, unlike normal clay, reacts well to stretching and pressure. In order to get rid of the original, discouraging green color, I mixed the clay with graphite powder, which turned it glossy black. It is difficult to work precisely with this material, and my attempts to form preconceived shapes produced quite boring results. On the other hand, when I simply played with the material, unexpected but pleasing "finished" forms emerged which I tried to learn to recognize. The unpredictability and nightmarish absurdity of the results seem to reach into the subconscious, but still defy rational explanation.

In order to obtain as much data as possible, I scanned the sculptures in color and then converted the scans to black-and-white RGB files using the Photoshop Channel Mixer tool. A relatively steep gradation curve ensured that the gray parts of the background tended to black. I had some of the resulting images printed in large formats for exhibition purposes.

A piece of black velvet laid over the object produces an even black background in the final image.

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