Vessel represents the dynamic between body and soul elaborated by Plato in Republic. It does this through a reinterpretation of a classic work by Plato’s contemporary, Polykleitos, in the form of a contemporary medium of artistic expression, 3D printing. Vessel is a reconstruction of a creative-commons licensed scan of Torso of the Diadumenus type (courtesy of the Louvre and Cosmo Wenman), which itself is a reproduction of Polykleitos’ famous Diadumenus.
I 3D printed Vessel to represent Plato’s concept of the importance of the soul over the physical body. To Plato, the soul is immortal and contains more “truth and essence” than the body (Book IX). 3D printing significantly lowers the bar for production of nearly all physical forms and places the piece’s importance on the essence of the creation (the meaning and design), not the actual physical object. I emphasize this through 3D printing a reproduction of Polykleitos’ Diadumenus, which was meticulously sculpted and considered to be the perfect male form. In contrast, the 3D print was created in a few hours with very little effort yet still achieves the perfect structure of the Diadumenus down to 100 microns. The body of the print is rendered unimportant, yet the soul (Polykleitos’ intellectual approach to anatomy) is still as important as ever.
I printed Vessel in a light, translucent filament to symbolize the transcendent, abstract nature of the human soul, which is described in The Republic as the “fairest of compositions” (Book X). The beauty of the translucent filament is contained within the ridges and grooves of the body, representing the fundamental problem facing the soul: it is imprisoned in the cage that is the physical form. Yet the translucent beauty also enhances the physical form, reflecting the ability of the soul to enhance the body. This dualism between the soul and the body is a significant Platonic concept, one which I hoped to effectively express through Vessel.
Xian Zhi Liu
George Liu is a sophomore at Columbia College (CC'17) majoring in Economics with a concentration in Sustainable Development. The Core Curriculum has been instrumental in helping him develop a deeper understanding of both the world around him and the world inside him. George’s favorite place to read is Drapkin Lounge and he actively avoids Butler Library as much as possible.