A Medieval ‘First in Flight’: Visualizing ‘Abbas Ibn Firnas & the Art of Early Aviation
An interdisciplinary creative, artistic exploration of an aeronautics milestone, in collaboration with Jan Chambers (Dramatic Art, PlayMakers) and Laura Miller (Mathematics). Read about it in a Carolina Arts & Sciences Magazine article here.
An experiment in using Unity gaming software to visualize a munya (aristocratic villas/estates) of early Islamic Spain, in collaboration with Anselmo Lastra (Computer Science). If you’d like to experiment with the Unity files of the model yourself, you can download those here.
I developed the early visualizations using SketchUp in the first Wired! summer lab. I’ve shared this work with various audiences, including at MIT, Duke University, UVA and SCAD. There’s a nice blog post with student responses to the SCAD lecture here.
High resolution gigapixel photography for art history
Anselmo Lastra (Computer Science) and Liz Lastra (History of Art) introduced me to Gigapan (high-resolution Gigapixel photography). With support from the Hanes Art Library (special thanks to Josh Hockensmith), I experimented with Gigapan in the field and with students in the Ackland Museum.
I took the Gigapan rig to Spain on two different research trips, to test how the technology worked in the field. You can explore my Gigapan images of: the tenth-century mihrab, the main dome, and the marble vault at the Great Mosque of Córdoba. You might also like to have a look at the images of the ‘pumpkin’ vault of S. Salvador del Palat del Rey, in León, and Burgos Cathedral.
With support from the Davis Library Research Hub, students in my graduate seminar, Arts of Umayyad Córdoba, examined the mosaics of the Great Mosque of Córdoba in a new way, using my Gigapan photos projected in an immersive social computing room. To explore the Great Mosque of Córdoba and Madinat al-Zahra’ we used the Google Liquid Galaxy immersive panoramic display + Google Earth, as explained in this article.
Students in my second-year course, Art in the Age of the Great Caliphs, created Gigapans of a medieval Islamic architectural fragment in the Ackland Museum, some of which you can see here: Side view with vegetal/geometric decoration, oblique view (rear), oblique view (front), side view with animal figures. Many thanks to Carolyn Allmendinger of the Ackland Museum for her collaboration!
With help from DH expert JJ Bauer of the Visual Resources Library students also created 3D scans of the Ackland Museum fragment, which they uploaded to Sketchfab and which, sadly, seem to have since disappeared. But here you can explore some other 3D models of caliphal objects and spaces. I collected these from the Sketchfab community, but I hope to get my Edinburgh students making and experimenting with 3D models as tools for art history very soon.