It's a 3D printable model of the Twitter hashtag '#arthistory'.
Ready made 3D prints of the model can be purchased from Shapeways in a range of materials ranging from black plastic through stone and ceramics to silver here: http://www.shapeways.com/model/847919/arthistory.html
The source files for the model can be downloaded from Gitorious here: http://gitorious.org/robmyers/hasharthistory
The .stl file has been printed many times on a MakerBot Replicator, see flickr for images of the results: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robmyers/sets/72157631732035720/
Charlotte Frost: http://digitalcritic.org
Rob Myers: http://robmyers.org/
The entire project of devising a model for a 3D print of the #arthistory hashtag (known also as ‘hash art history’) and making it publicly available to buy and use in any way its owner sees fit provides the illustrative component of an academic journal article on digital art history.
In 2010 Charlotte created Arts Future Book, a research project and academic book series that investigates the corelation between the physical form and critical content of the art history book. The book series gives authors the opportunity to make their arguments in a variety of experimental and perhaps more appropriate forms. You'll find more on that here: http://www.gylphi.co.uk/arts/index.php
Then, she wrote an article explaining why she thinks disciplines that have disregarded the specificity of their own media — like art history — must gain a better understanding of exactly what it is they produce. But what she needed to do was make this article available in a way that would expand her theory by applying form as carefully the critical theory.
So she got together with artist Rob Myers to help her work it out. This is because Rob has an on-going project called ‘Sharable Readymades’ which releases the models and 3D prints of iconic artworks that themselves (and in their 3D print form) comment on the physical and ephemeral nature of art contexts. For example you can print up an artistically inspired urinal here: http://robmyers.org/urinal/
What Charlotte and Rob wanted to do was make the article's argument in a new form and demonstrate it in a different way. So they decided to turn a piece of art history-related text — literally the term ‘art history’ — into an object and emphasize the physical nature of all forms of art historical text. They also wanted to subvert the usual format of an academic article, so if the article was digital, the illustrative component should be physical. And they wanted to contrast established print-based art historical taxonomies with emerging digital ones. Meanwhile, as Charlotte was also offering her article up for open peer review, she and Rob wanted to allow an article that partly demonstrates the participative nature of digital culture to be participative in other ways. Why not let anyone illustrate the paper and or write their own digital histories of art just by using the #arthistory hashtag? In a sense then, this whole project becomes an illustration of the fabrication of art discourse itself.
For a fuller explanation, Charlotte's article can be found here: http://www.gylphi.co.uk/artsfuturebook/
Anything you like! But one particular application might be to use as a way of marking physical objects with the term 'art history' as though hashtagging in real life. You might for example like to place your hashtag next to your favourite coffee mug and enjoy its new iconic status in the comfort of your own home/office.
If you want to show the rest of us what you have physically hashtagged or indeed how else you are using your hashtag you can do so by Tweeting images and applying the digital art history hashtag (#arthistory) and they will appear here: https://twitter.com/search/%23arthistory
Or you can upload images and tag then with the same hashtag on Flickr and they will appear here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/2052579@N25/
Or you can upload images to the #arthistory Tumblr here: http://hasharthistory.tumblr.com/
If you can't get enough of this print to digital to print loop then you'll soon be able to get your own book of tweets featuring the #arthistory hashtag here: http://www.ether-press.com/twitter/
That's fine, Charlotte and Rob are not immune to their charms and happen to know you can get models of My Little Ponies here: http://www.thingiverse.com/search?q=pony
This work (not other people's tweets or photos!) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.