Making Meaning Matter

The Evergreen State College

Author: Michael Baur

Blue Rabbit #2

Who is really the scanner? What does it mean to build something? Where do you take from and where do you take it to? When does something become unique?  Which matters more?

How I choose to answer these questions in regards to my Blue Rabbit Project, creating a digital library of the assets from The Evergreen State College Natural History Museum, has left me digging deep.

The idea of 3D printing a skull I scan leaves much left yearning in my personal goals, having taken something that was one alive and using it’s remains to perpetuate it’s life implicates even more.

If I use the scan as a reference to draw a rendition of the animal’s exact genus and species won’t I be using something with it’s own unique qualities as well? Where does the individual of an entire group begin to represent similar enough qualities to represent the entirety of the whole group? Are the marks and blemishes that befall the item in it’s life or even after death change what it is, out side of the vantage of quality, and if these models that are created from scans have the ability to be restored and improved doesn’t that change the value of quality?

I selected my project to challenge what it means to create, if our references act as crutches and stairways to new ideas, the idea of creating entire reference libraries that can be re-transformed into pristine samples would mean to create better gateways to new thoughts. The physical task of scanning items is not difficult but the idea of creating from those samples leaves endless possibilities. New communities could begin to form around the idea of up-keeping and updating what can be used as tools in countless fields of study(ecology, art, biology just to name some). My goal is to create something that extends beyond myself and will be a project that is continued with or without me. Anyone could take the existing models from the library and transform it. From anything like an entirely new species to an even more improved representation of reality.  Each iteration could be added back into the library allowing for individuals to become informed as well as inform others of their works.

"Economies of scale drive down the consumer price of mass-produced products and increase profits for a company. However,
 to earn back the upfront investments in design and production, companies must sell large volumes of the same product. 
Only after a significant number of identical products are sold does a company begin to profit from its initial investment."(Lipson, Kurman, 2013, 26)

Instead of having to focus on producing only one item in order to make a return we can have open source an entire library of items acts outside the commercial market. With the free
exchange of ideas and new models that could be printed for next to nothing and specialized to each individual, tailored to their specific demands with no need for over production. These ideas hit home for me because of the focus on suitability in the actions taken and is in opposition of the current global economic environment.  I chose to awnser the questions we have repeated, “Why produce in a world physical objects in a world over-saturated already…?” with the chose to not produce anything physical. Rather I pursued the chose to create digital objects of items that are in general restrictive in access because of their physical qualities.

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History states on their 3D Collection website that ” the purpose of this collection is to allow you to view your favorite objects from our David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins or to examine many of the primate and other animal skeletons housed in our museum’s collections. All of the virtual objects on display were either CT or laser scanned. The scanning process enabled us to generate 3D models of each object that you can view, rotate, and interact with online.” The tools used by this organization are professional standard and the creation of the scans were done under the supervision of  PHD’s and other credentialed staffers. Although I do not have the same tools, skills or facilities I do have the drive to create something a little more open than the Smithsonian. I was not able to download any models from the website or interact with them outside of the site itself, but I found that the catalog system was very intricate and that there was lot of pertinent information about what I was interacting with.  I will use this national museums model in my creation of the digital catalog with the added ability to have moderator approved uploads and the ability to download models open to students.

Watching the class interact with the 3D scanner this quarter reminds me of how excited I was when I first started using this technology this summer but also  clues me in on how much people enjoy recreating the physical world virtually.  Our generation currently and to come will have a greater appreciation of what is virtual and what is not, in both value and understanding. As we create reality virtually what reality do we encapsulate? Where is decay on our digital screens, as our users die but their files remain unscathed what will truly be seen as our lasting legacy. If others can amend reality posthumously won’t we always be remembered better down the line?

At this time I have gotten the program “Skanect” installed onto the computers inside the Natural History Museum at Evergreen. This Wednesday I will attempt to use the schools resources and $0.00 to produce the ‘skeleton’ of what is to become our 3D collection at The Evergreen State College Natural History Museum. Yes I did not create the taxidermy-ed and preserved items at the library but I will add to their longevity.  I will be giving myself the ability to have new references for future 3D modeling projects and a more through appreciate of the biological and ecological differences between species as I get to handle rare items.

“Abbott’s Gray Gibbon, Indonesia (USNM 142172).” Human Evolution by The Smithsonian Institution’s Human Origins Program. Web. 4 Nov. 2014.

Lipson, H., & Kurman, M. (2013). Fabricated : The New World of 3D Printing (1st ed..). John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Retrieved from

Chandler, A. D., & Hikino, T. (1994). Scale and Scope : The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism. Harvard University Press. Retrieved from



So this is making?


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“Do you really have to ask me what’s wrong?” – Suzanne Church Doctorow, Cory. Makers. New York: Tor, 2009. 250. Print


This week someone yelled at me in the Cal to “quit with my hippy bullshit.” A student in another class outside of Making Meaning Matter had submitted to the CAL are large order for 3d Printing. I say order because he had no interest in the technology producing the item, simply using the 3d Printers to produce a mask based on the video game series Halo, in which he hopes to sell as costumes. The time it would take to print all seventeen of the files topped over 60 hours, not including the trial and error that was associated with someone who knows nothing about the technology forcing his way into the cue. I also watched a student with a goal of printing glasses, leave their prototype unclaimed along with coins from the first week and another students “extruder”  until their attention was brought to the fact it had been complete, while going out and grabbing a “remix” of an idea off Thingiverse.  This is all just how it seems its going to be as this week I was also informed I was being a disruption to the class and in violation of the class covenant.


Enjoy making other peoples ideas, I’m confused at the source of satisfaction but who am I?


Water dripped all week and over last weekend as working last Friday night I called the Police because water has continued to drip through the roof from the construction on the second floor and an improper fix the first go around. This culminated on Thursday when one of the machines had to be made inoperable because water is still leaking.


“You’ve got people all over the country depending on you and you are just abdication your responsibility to them” Doctorow, Cory. Makers. New York: Tor, 2009. 251. Print

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Going ‘Viral’

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IMG_20141026_151550541_HDR“I’m not delivering any news if I tell you the world is a piece of hell for millions of people. There are always a few who manage to find a way out, humans are capable of the best as well as the worst, but you can’t change human destiny. We live in a dark age, when freedoms are diminishing, when there is no space for criticism, when totalitarianism — the totalitarianism of multinational corporations, of the marketplace — no longer even needs an ideology, and religious intolerance is on the rise. Orwell’s ‘1984’ is already here.”

-Eberstadt, Fernanda. “José Saramago, the Unexpected Fantasist.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Aug. 2007. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.

“A new powerful metaphor was spreading rapidly: that the mind is to the brain as a computer program is to the hardware of the computer it runs.”

-Malafouris, Lambros. How Things Shape the Mind: A Theory of Material Engagement. MIT, 2013. 26. Print.

Things are getting more involved this week as the class presented its’ ideas for their unique ‘Blue Rabbit’ projects. The diversity amongst the group is astounding yet there do remain some overarching concepts that seem to be present in all of the designs. Specifically in reference to the following: everyone plans to use the schools MakerBots to produce their items, their own path through life has inspired their design, and that the target market is not just the individual, meaning that the sphere of influence for these ideas hopes to effect peoples globally. Interest also appears to be growing towards expanding past the current software that is the class standard, as many struggled with the Tinkercad website as its corporate owner shifted the login procedure as well as the limits of the website itself.

(note how Shapeways used my design as targeted advertisement back at the designer…)

I also made this ;)


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“Failable and Scalable”

"Economies of scale drive down the consumer price of mass-produced products and increase profits for a company. However,
 to earn back the upfront investments in design and production, companies must sell large volumes of the same product. 
Only after a significant number of identical products are sold does a company begin to profit from its initial investment."
(Lipson, Kurman, 2013, 26)