Introduction: Weekly Project: a Handheld 3-D Camera: Without Using a Camera
In Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography (The MIT Press, 1999; ISBN 0-262-52259-4), author Geoffrey Batchen explores the passions of early photographers to record latent images. The initial work of Nicephore Niepce, Louis Daguerre, and William Henry Fox Talbot are each examined in a discussion that is bounded by the philosophical and scientific definitions surrounding the discovery of photography.
Along with this conception of a new form of visualization, the art community was challenged with the birth of a new definition--what exactly is photography?
Fast forward to today. The art community now has another challenge. Just like the declaration attributed to Paul Delaroche upon learning about photography ("From today, painting is dead") so too has photography been read its epitaph with the advent of digital imaging. One thing that Batchen points out very clearly, however, is that such dogma is anathema to artists.
Photographers have long embraced digital technology as a medium for expression. Even oddball offshoots like scanner photography have been appreciated by the artist as photographer.
Andrew Davidhazy, Mike Golembewski, Kurt Novak, and Lieve Prins have each used the scanner as a creative platform. The handheld 3D camera explores a similar tack; in this case, using a scanner to create high resolution 3D images.
Following some careful scanner dissection and software calibration, the handheld 3D camera can be used for printing detailed images of any object that you can touch--an effect that could leave you burning with desire.
Step 1: Make a Handheld 3D Camera
Step 2: Install the Software
The software shipped with the Canon scanner will not work with the handheld 3D camera.
Before you attach the scanner to your computer, you must download and install the Scanner Access Now Easy (SANE) software. This software enables you to operate a scanner "outside the box." Although SANE is first-and-foremost a Linux project, there are ports for other operating systems. In fact, there are some creative options for using SANE as a TWAIN driver within applications like Adobe Photoshop.
Once you've installed this scanner software, operate the scanner with SANE several times before beginning Step 2. Observe the startup sequence for the scanner. Record how many times the scan head drive motor starts and stops. You will need this information in Step 3.
Step 3: Gut the Scanner
Carefully, remove the scan head from inside the CanoScan LiDE 25 scanner. Begin by removing the lid from the scanner's body. Next lift the glass out from the taped plastic guides along each side. Retain the top paper size guide for calibrating the scanner during startup. This piece has a black/white calibration strip along its underside.
Disconnect the scan head from the reinforced movement cable. There is a set of five metal clips that hold the USB ribbon cable to the inside edge of the scanner. Slip these clips/cable out of the scanner's plastic edge. These clips are very poor quality metal and can be easily broken. Finally, remove the USB port from the rear of the scanner.
You now have a handheld 3D camera that can be tethered to the USB port of your notebook computer.
NOTE: Careful disassembly of the scanner will enable you to "recover" conventional operation of the CanoScan LiDE 25 when you are done making 3D art.
Step 4: Make Some Art?
When you are ready to scan/photograph an object, place the paper size guide/calibration piece saved from Step 2 on top of the LED/sensor bar of the scan head. The scanner needs to "read" this guide prior to beginning a scan; otherwise the LED will shut down.
Now, click the scan button on the SANE interface. As the scanner reads the black/white calibration strip, the scan head motor will start up. Each time this motor starts, insert the small screwdriver tip into the Q18 photo sensor switch. This screwdriver insertion will stop the motor. On the final motor startup (as recorded in Step 1), don't insert the screwdriver tip, rather scan your 3D object.
NOTE: None of these example images has been manipulated in Photoshop. Each image original is a 300dpi scan.
Some operating tips:
- keep the LED/sensor of the scan head in close contact with your subject
- set the dimensions for your "scanning" to the maximum size (i.e., called "Geometry" in SANE) that will allow you to cover the entire surface of your 3D object
- move your "camera" while the scan head motor is running; try moving in all directions--around, over, and under your object