Where others see rot and decay, Patrick Letourneau sees beauty.
The 32-year-old Winnipeg artist revels in the decrepit, doomed structures slated for demolition, seeing beyond the rusty reds of corroded silos and worn-out old granaries, the sagging beams of fragmented ghost barns in farm fields.
Letourneau looks into spaces that once thrived, then, using a technique called photogrammetry, he brings them to life.
“I am thrilled to see how the structures age and the character that their long life has given them. Older structures, especially wooden structures, show their age and aging in unique ways,” said studio owner Letourneau. Polygon Sandwich 3D animation.
“They move with the earth, they sag and warp, they speckle with moss and rot. It’s a very organic and impermanent method of construction that reflects the landscape in which it was built.”
The artist takes hundreds of superimposed photos of the ruins he encounters using a portable camera as well as a drone.
The photos are cleaned and processed before being fed into special software which converts the images into three-dimensional digital images. Then the 3D laser printer turns them into hard plastic models, some as small as a postage stamp.
“There is a lot of work to do and I do it in sprints and bursts, often evenings and weekends. It can take the printer five to 30 hours to rebuild the building slice by slice, often more than 4,000 layers of vertical resolution.”
The Manitoba structures are a passion project, even if it’s expensive on Létourneau’s wallet, like the $4,000 camera he recently purchased to advance the project.
“It’s an expensive business, from scanning and 3D printing to lighting and photo equipment. But I hope to recoup my costs. I’m focused on perfecting the technique and I have drawn from work.”
Létourneau hopes to embark on a road trip in the future, traveling through neighboring provinces to preserve their decaying old buildings.
“I consider myself a technologist working in the service of historians. I feel both a sense of duty to preserve more of it and a fear of the logistics involved,” he says.