Shanzhai Remix: a Display Wall of Knockoffs




Introduction: Shanzhai Remix: a Display Wall of Knockoffs

Shanzhai Remix explores the extended meaning of shanzhai 山寨, a Chinese word commonly refers to counterfeit products that imitate well-known brands. Although the word may imply a negative meaning at the surface level, it carries features of fast renewal speed, indigenized design, vulgarized adaptation, and flexible options. Its ignorance of copyright law and intellectual property rights challenges the monopolized companies who control the full resources over the globalized market. A pair of sneakers mixes the Nike logo with Adidas design symbolize a democratic system that resists against the existing one.The fabrication process utilized various 3D rendering and fabrication techniques. The images had been constantly recreated and reproduced. The transformations occurred during the data regenerating process correspond to the way images are altered from its original to the shanzhai form.

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Step 1: Gather Objects for Photogrammetry

Here are the objects I purchased from the biggest Chinese online shopping website taobao. Most of them are knockoffs priced under five USD. And all of them are free shipping inside China.

Step 2: Take Photos for Photogrammetry

The workflow of taking photos for photogrammetry is basically keeping the object still and move the camera around to photo the object from different angles.

I was using my iphone6 to take pictures. Since most of my objects are small, I found my phone convenient to let me move around. I put my object on top of a wood bar so that I can get images of the bottom. The other option to get a 360 photogrammetry is to take two sets of photos and stitch the 2 models together using software such as Meshlab. Here is a tutorial on how you can use Meshlab to align two models.

Below are a few tips I have for taking pictures for photogrammetry:

Make sure both foreground and background are sharp.

No moving objects or people in the background.

Keep the surrounding light even.

If the object has reflective surfaces, use an anti-reflective spray.

Further readings on photogrammetry reflective surfaces:

Step 3: Converting Photos to 3D Model

I used Autodesk Remake to process photos for photogrammetry. I found the interface pretty easy and straightforward to use. Each project for me took from an hour to a couple hours to process depending on the number of pictures I uploaded. The results were pretty satisfying. Most details were captured. The software also generates the texture which was very helpful for my later on animation rendering.

Recap is another photogrammetry software I found easy to use.

I used Remake and Maya to clean the models. Meshlab is other easy and free software for cleaning up 3d scans.

Step 4: CNC Milling

I did some modeling to reassemble two Photogrammetry objects into a new 3D object.

A few examples are a Gucci bag tank, a drone with a knockoff backpack, a half doll half phone toy.

After the 3d models are cleaned up, it's time for CNC milling.

I used Shopbot PRSalpha CNC Routers for cutting. I did two cuts for each object, one rough path, and one precise path. The total time for the machine to cut a 10” x 5”x 2” object was around 2 hours. The material I used was 4lb sculpting foam.

I did some hand sculpting to add a few details after the cut.

Step 5: Vacuum Forming

In order to make lots of copies of the same object, I used a vacuum form machine. During the vacuum forming process, a sheet of PETG sheet was heated up until flexible and draped against the foam I cut with CNC earlier. It was fast and efficient. Each piece was formed within a minute, in comparison with the CNC machine, which took two hours.

Step 6: Coating and Finishing

I used a white spray primer to add some extra texture to the plastic surface. It also makes it matt, which is ideal for projection.

Step 7: Display Wall and Projections

After the final coating and finishing, it's time to hang the pieces on the wall. I used a projection mapping software to map each animation to the wall piece. But since the same Photogrammetry 3D models were used to render the animations, even without mapping, the images can line up with the wall-mounted pieces almost perfectly.

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    2 years ago

    That's a neat art installation :) Cool idea!