Natural History

2015 // Invention

Natural History is an ongoing project about manufacturing 3D printed models to reconstruct taxidermic animals from Natural history museums.


The project began at the Cerritos College Art Gallery Art+Tech residency. Cain worked with a cross-section of advanced students from both the Cerritos College Art Department’s 3D-Design program and the Engineering Design Technology program, collaborating to produce life-sized sculptures inspired by 3D scans of taxidermied animal specimens from local museum collections and private holdings.


These animals, native to the American West, and therefore loaded with semiotic significance in our collective imagination (coyotes, eagles, rabbits, bears, etc.), were scanned, manipulated, and printed using the 3D software and printers available in Cerritos College’s Engineering Design lab, as well as at USC’s Roski School of Design, and the corporate headquarters of this year’s exhibition sponsor, AirWolf 3D. Assembled from multiple tessellated print-chamber-sized polyhedral forms, inspired in part by the utopian designs of Buckminster Fuller, these semi-erased biological specimens literally fuse with modernist design tropes in order to reflect on the difficulty of reconciling California’s futurist and utopian impulses with the increasingly distant and endangered legacy of its wild past.


The catalog features essays by Jeff Cain, James McDevitt, Julia Paull, and Theun Karsile. You can purchase a copy of the catalog here, and download the pdf here.