Vespers I

Vespersi Web 1as1
3D printed death masks, series 1

Hybrid living mask prototypes

Research team: Christoph Bader, Dominik Kolb, James C. Weaver. Prof. Neri Oxman.

Year: 2016

Location: Design Museum, 2016, London, United Kingdom

Platform: Data Driven Material Modeling


Vespers is a collection of masks exploring what it means to design (with) life. From the relic of the death mask to the death mask as a contemporary living device, the collection embarks on a journey that begins with an ancient typology and culminates with a novel technology for the design and digital fabrication of adaptive and responsive interfaces.

Vespers I features the death mask as a cultural artifact; Vespers III features a living mask as an enabling technology; Vespers II mediates between the two, marking the process of ‘metamorphosis’ between the ancient relic and its contemporaneous manifestation. Thus, we begin with a conceptual piece and end with a tangible set of tools, techniques and technologies combining programmable matter and programmable life. 

Vespersi Diagram Geometric Generation Gray
A visual representation of the generation process
Vespersi Generated Shapes For Evaluation
Meshes that were generated for performance evaluation
Vespersi Diagram 1 2 Materials Gray
Vespers variations with up to two materials
Vespersi Diagram 3 4 Materials Gray
Vespers variations with three and four materials


The masks’ colors are correlated with underlying geometries, which are, in combination, driven by a parametric grammar. In this series, polyhedral meshes are ‘evolved’ into subdivided surfaces using an algorithm, which—like the formation of life itself—emulates cellular subdivision.

Using a minimal set of rules, the series generates a plethora of color/shape schemes. The implementation of the Stratasys full color multi-material 3D printing technology enables the creation of objects—for the first time in the history of additive manufacturing—that match the variety and nuance of ancient crafts.

Smallest printed feature size in micrometers


Diameter of a fat cell in micrometers

Vespersi Web 14
Mask 04 Using minimal sets of rules, the series generated a plethora of colors and shapes. Photo: Yoram Reshef
Vespersi Mask05 Closeup
Mask 05 Colors were correlated with underlying geometries. Photo: Yoram Reshef
01 Mask02 Splash
Mask 02 Vepsers uses 5 color combinations found in religious practices across regions and eras. Photo: Yoram Reshef
Vespersi Web 07
Mask 01 Embedded with natural minerals, such as bismuth, silver, and gold. Photo: Yoram Reshef


The most iconic death masks—like those of Agamemnon and King Tutankhamun—were made entirely of, or inlaid with, precious stones and minerals. The use of color often expressed the cultural attributes of the deceased associated with their spiritual powers, or religious affiliation.

The first series explores life through the lens of death. Inspired by ancient masks, it uses five color combinations commonly found in religious practices across regions and eras, and is embedded with natural minerals, such as bismuth, silver, and gold.

Vespersi Web 04
Mask 03 An algorithm emulated cellular subdivision, like the formation of life itself. Photo: Yoram Reshef


Collaborators & Contributors: Gal Begun; Boris Belocon; Naomi Kaempfer; Danielle Van Zadelhoff; MIT Media Lab

Created in collaboration with Stratasys Ltd. for the New Ancient Collection

All images and videos courtesy of Neri Oxman and The Mediated Matter Group

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