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On this page we present one article selected from the extensive range of Ariadne back issues.

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Developments in Virtual 3D Imaging of Cultural Artefacts

Richard Collmann describes how experience using a portable Virtual 3D Object Rig in cultural institutions has led to significant improvements in apparatus design and workflow.

The collapsable, portable electromechanical Virtual 3D (V3D) Object Rig Model 1 (ORm1) (Figures 1, 2, 3) was developed to meet an obvious need found after an important Australian cultural artefact - a nineteenth-century post-mortem plaster head-cast of the notorious bushranger Ned Kelly [1] - was Apple QTVR-imaged (QuickTime Virtual Reality) using a large static object rig at the University of Melbourne over 2003/4. The author requested that this moving and hyperlinked image be constructed as a multimedia component of a conjectured cross-disciplinary undergraduate teaching unit. The difficulties encountered in obtaining permission from the cultural collection involved to transport this object some 400 metres to the imaging rig located on the same geographical campus suggested to the author that a portable object imaging rig could be devised and taken to any cultural collection anywhere to image objects in situ.

In the early to mid-19th century these physical records were taken for phrenological research purposes, however by the late-C19 this quasi-science had been largely discredited. The underlying reasons for these practices had been forgotten; the recording and keeping was absorbed by reason of habit into accepted routine procedure; as just a part of the workflow within the State criminal justice execution process. This procedure would be rejected out of hand nowadays, but this 19th century habit of retaining physical artefacts is fortunate for the present-day cross-disciplinary historian.

As mentioned, the author wished to use the head cast as the pivotal focus for cross-disciplinary undergraduate teaching purposes with contributions from the perspective of History of Science, Australian Colonial History, Sociology and Criminology. It was considered by the subject contributors that such a cross-disciplinary teaching module could well benefit from a Web-based multimedia approach.

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