The Andy Warhol Archive in Pittsburgh plays host to nearly everything that Warhol ever owned. Our late Uncle Andy had a habit of tossing things in boxes by his desk, and then when they were full, sealing them up, dating them, and putting them aside. Some very odd things have been found in these boxes. Entire pizzas. Slices of birthday cake. A mummified foot. An inflated Batman toy. Clark Gable’s shoes. Et cetera.
These boxes are better known as the Time Capsules and pose an enormous archival challenge. These combinations of junk and treasure cost $5000 each to open and properly preserve. One can’t help but imagine Warhol being a little amused at some of the contents of the Time Capsules being handled with gloves and kept in mylar sleeves.
When I first learned of the Time Capsules, I speculated that there would be little insight into Warhol to gain from being able to handle an old pizza that Warhol purchased, never consumed, and then put in a box. Most of the individual pieces will indeed remain enigmatic, but considering that the whole collection comprises 210 boxes, the Time Capsules are a significant gesture.
Moreover, as it often goes in the art world: the holy of holies — the hand of the artist — dictates what is important, so the perceived significance of the objects matters little to those at the Archive or Warhol scholars. For some time I thought hanging on to Andy Warhol’s pizzas was absurd – just throw them in a 3D scanner in case a scholar really wants to know what Andy took on his pizza later on and dump the nearly-impossible-to-preserve original. I thought it was messy, un-curated, un-critical and maybe even lazy. Now I see it a little differently: once in the cardboard box, an ontological levelling took place and the pizza is on par with the wig; the mummified foot on par with the Brillo box. It’s perhaps impossible to say what clues will be unearthed from these objects, or from any object.
In a kind of wink to the Time Capsules and the whole pizzas and half-eaten pizzas and even lumps of pizza dough found within several of them, I have curated a collection of 3D-scanned pizzas and pizza slices which have been captured using the Autodesk 123D Catch app. The collection functions as a snapshot of the quality of the technology now and the random sampling of pizza styles; as a kind of sly joke that a packrat like Warhol might have appreciated; and as a usable collection of 3D models of pizza, ready to print. My dinner yesterday could sit, in its imperfectly captured glory, on your desk today.
Featured in: The 3D Additivist Cookbook, edited by Morehshin Allahyari and Daniel Rourke
“Materializing the Internet”, MU Eindhoven