A modern day treasure hunter — Anousha Payne uses 3D printing to carve out a niche between ancient materials and modern technology, rewriting the context of cultural objects.

For centuries, people have trawled the earth plundering cultural relics from sacred sites, appropriating them for the benefit of others.

Anousha Payne is an entirely different kind of treasure hunter. She makes ‘imagined artefacts’ – digital creations rendered in physical form – that explore ideas of ownership, identity and representation in the modern age.

Using 3D scanning and printing, the 26-year-old London artist makes semi-abstracted forms that feel both familiar and new – carving out a niche between ancient materials and modern technology.

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“I was thinking about whether an object still has spiritual qualities when it’s replicated,” she says. “Is it still the same thing when I’ve imagined it huge and in another material?”

To find out, Anousha crafts ornaments that could have existed in another world, then has them blown-up in size by a 3D printer at MyMini Factory.

When you create a handmade object, she explains, you don’t always know what form it will ultimately take. With a 3D-printed object, however, every step is an exact science.

That gives her work the feeling of a collaboration between human and machine. But it also poses some pretty questions in the mind of the viewer.

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These creations upend the traditional dynamic of cultural appropriation. They inspire you to reconsider how sacred objects change when they’re taken from their intended context, what they represent and who really ‘owns’ them to begin with.

You can even print out your own version of Anousha’s imagined artefacts – putting a DIY stamp on a project that’s all about cultural empowerment.

Watch part 1 and part 2 of Heightened Senses.

Canvas is a channel funded by the Arts Council dedicated to inspire young people through the arts. Find out more.

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