The Xbox 360 version of the Kinect was not exceptional at performing its base functions. However, artists Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles defied the odds in October 2015 by steathily using the device to capture a near-perfect 3D replica of Nefertiti, and they have been curiously public about their actions since.
Eurogamer‘s video editor Chris Bratt got in touch with the architects of this bizarre art heist to see how they pulled it off. The artists mentioned how they prepared a complicated “mobile setup” with lots of prep work. They observed the security guards’ patterns in Berlin’s Neues Museum on Sundays: the busiest day for visitors. They even took calculated breaks to avoid suspicion. Check out the video below for more details.
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A controversy arose over the probability of using Kinect to create the high-resolution scans of the Egyptian Queen’s bust, and some believe that the artists might have stolen the museum’s own scans instead of creating their own. Nelles offereed a comment on this version of events in his interview with Eurogamer:
“Officially we claim to have scanned the bust at the museum at this point. But frankly speaking, I can tell you that this was part of the process to acquire the data. We have combined technologies. We have not only done the scan with the Kinect, but you can use the data of the Kinect for certain parts of the measurements and then you combine other data that you acquire through other methods. This leads to this kind of high resolution, high poly dataset.”
Either way, the duo want to add to the a discussion about the possession of art and who has the right to house historical artifacts taken from other countries. The artist could face some significant legal repercutions for their scans, but the museum hasn’t pursued action yet.
However the age-old controversy about art ownership plays out, the artists’ use of the Kinect is one of the most interesting points of this tale. While the story loses a bit of its magic with “combined technologies,” the fact that Microsoft’s peripheral played a role is undoubtedly impressive.