A New Way of Experiencing Sculpture

Advances in technology have opened up exciting creative possibilities in how we experience the arts. Through a 2015 Gibbons Fellowship, Assistant Professor of Art Jackie Brown and Laura Griffee ’17 have spent the summer developing an interactive 3D interface for Brown’s sculpture installations. With this interface, they aim to capture the scale, relation, and dimensionality of her sculptures. By offering a virtual means for users to explore the work they hope to create a dynamic experience.

Laura Griffee ’17, left, and Assistant Professor of Art Jackie Brown. Photo by Tara Hutton

Laura Griffee ’17, left, with Jackie Brown. Photo by Tara Hutton

The process began with making a 3D model. Laura took 250 photographs of a selected sculpture, capturing the work from every angle and then imported the images into Autodesk Memento where they were stitched together and used to generate a 3D model. Laura then used the 3D model to generate animated videos that rotate and move the object, offering viewers a sense of the 3D dimensional form in a way that can’t quite be captured through traditional documentation.

Click on the photo to see the animated video

Laura then generated an interactive model that allows viewers to rotate and explore the work on their own. This interface intends to give the user greater control over how they experience the artwork. Laura developed the interactive model using a WebGL web player and Blend4Web.

Click on the photo to see the animated video

Click on the photo to see the animated video

They are currently using an animation program called Unity to take the interactive quality even further. Installation art often involves physically moving through an environment and by developing a virtual installation Jackie and Laura aim to offer viewers a comparable experience. This is an exciting step towards allowing viewers to navigate through virtual space in a way that speaks to the experiential nature of installation art.

Click on the photo to see the animated video

Click on the photo to see the animated video

In the future Jackie Brown and Laura Griffee hope to explore additional virtual possibilities such as creating a build-your-own sculpture feature and adding functions that allow users to bring up photos, videos, and a web player by clicking on a sculpture in the virtual installation.

Photo by Tara Hutton

Photo by Tara Hutton

Laura Griffee ’17 is pursuing a self-designed major in art and computer science.

Jackie Brown joined the Visual Arts faculty in the fall of 2014 and she is currently preparing for exhibitions in Maine, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

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