With hammer and chisel, ancient masters chipped away jagged shards of stone bringing forth images of man and woman so lifelike that had they opened their eyes and breathed it would have been evidence of their holy birth.
Arduous and time-consuming, sculpting of old was not an efficacious method of artistic expression. In the modern era, scientists have engineered all the man-made noises once indicative of such carvings out of the process. The cacophony of metal against stone has been replaced by the less discordant whirr of robot arms shifting and maneuvering around massive figures, and scraping and grinding exchanged for the subtle hiss of lasers cutting into blocks of granite and marble.
With technological advances in 3D printing, a simple scan of the masterpiece meant to be duplicated and a given length of time, an exact rendering can be created.
The dichotomy of methods does not match the uniformity in the final works of art. Through the proper analytical instruction, even the most learned and experienced art critic could not discern a difference between Rodan’s “The Thinker” and one created in a laboratory.
The conflict comes when a technologically corrupt artist attempts to forge masterpieces for financial gain, or for some impulsive desire to commit the perfect crime. Certainly, the more sophisticated 3D printers could reproduce smaller busts or figures, even mimicking specific materials such as stone or bronze.
Clio, ensconced in her usual spot in the auditorium – center row, center seat – tried to concentrate as the Art History professor drone on, not quite sure if he was advocating or condemning ancient artistic methods.
Turning her attention away from the remainder of the lecture, Clio studied her fellow art students. Some few were serious academics, while most were there for the easy liberal arts credit. Those were easy to spot. They were the ones who never took a single note, spending the hour playing games or texting on their smartphones. The illumination of their phone screens betraying them in the darkened theater.
A small cluster of students sitting along the far right edge of pit seating drew her gaze. Two students sat close together, shoulders touching, while a third leaned over their backs from the row behind. All three were intently studying a large electronic table one of the front two was holding. Pulling her ever-present opera glasses from her backpack, Clio tried to see what had the trio so fascinated.
The professor, oblivious to the distraction, began the slide portion of his presentation. As the lights dimmed further, Clio was able to see the images her classmates were studying in lieu of watching the history PowerPoint.
She recognized the format as that of the Sotheby’s auction website. Clio quickly logged into her own account there, and with only a few clicks was seeing the same images – small 12th century reliefs and medallion sculptures, specifically those in alabaster and limestone.
An open backpack in the aisle beside them revealed a Mechanical Engineering textbook and spools of 3D printing ABS filament. The animated way the trio was scrolling through the art pieces, it wasn’t a stretch for Clio to presume they were planning to test the prof’s hypothesis about replicating one of those figures and passing it as the original.
She knew the type. They believed they were smarter, more entitled and more cunning than anyone, just the sort who would attempt such a forgery.
When the auditorium lights came up, Clio waiting in her seat as the room emptied out, paying close attention to the trio as they climbed the steps out. Thumbing on her phone, she sent a group text to three of her sisters – Polly, Ursula, and Melony.
We need to meet
Problem n Art Depart re: deception by Science.
U sure abt this?
As sure as i am abt anything
good nuff 4 me
What abt the others?
I'll loop em n if nec
During their clandestine meeting, Clio told her siblings about her suspicious classmates and the sisters began their plot to stop the nefarious scheme.
“I am so disappointed in Royce,” Polly said. “His geometric talents were inspired if I do say so myself.”
“I should have seen this whole tragedy coming.” Mel grew angrier at her failure to predict the conspiracy. “I am so depressed.”
“Don’t beat yourself up over it, Mel,” Clio said. “Derek didn’t have a history of this sort of thing either.”
“I think our plan will be the perfect sabotage to their felonious endeavor,” Ursula said. “Hopefully, after this, they will all change directions and follow a straighter path.”
The Mewes Sisters, all nine of them, went into action. Before the week was done, the would-be 3D forgers were too busy salvaging their academic careers to worry about becoming master art thieves.
Royce, the math whiz, had some sort of breakdown, and could barely apply basic addition and subtraction rules let alone advanced differential equations required for solid geometry.
Derek, the art history major who was to research which materials and figures to replicate, suddenly couldn’t remember anything about medieval art.
Wyatt, their coding genius, suddenly lost all skill in syntax and selectors, ids and tags. He couldn’t even explain what semantics were.
Their suspicious malaise lifted as quickly as came, leaving the trio thankful for not being reckless enough to ruin their futures with their counterfeiting scam.
The Sisters, ageless and timeless, continued their watch, protecting history, art, poetry and prose.