ABOUT ASHES 2 ART
Ashes2Art, as a collaborative project between Coastal Carolina University and Arkansas State University, recently was awarded a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities
Ashes2Art combines art history, archaeology, graphic and web design, 3D animation and digital photography to recreate monuments of the ancient past online. With faculty guidance, students from Coastal Carolina University and Arkansas State University conduct focused research on specific monuments, visit the locations, shoot high resolution digital panoramas, write essays that summarize scholarly opinions based on published archaeological reports, and document those sources with extended bibliographies. QuickTime digital panoramas and immersive 3D models are built and posted online utilizing technologies including, Panoweaver, Tourweaver, Studio Max 3D, Adobe Photoshop, Google Earth, Cinema 4D, RealViz Stitcher, Mud Box, Dreamweaver and Macromedia Flash.
Ashes2Art was conceived by professors Arne Flaten (Art History) and Paul Olsen (Graphic Design) at Coastal Carolina University. Essentially, we envision this as a way of integrating new technologies with hands-on teaching, effectively blurring traditional lines between art history, graphic design and communication arts. Intrigued by the projects at UCLA
, Williams College
and various websites worldwide
, Flaten and Olsen decided that a program of this sort, with significant alterations, would provide exciting opportunities for study and teaching.
Eventually Ashes2Art hopes to employ digital animation and FPS (First Person Shooter) video game coding. We envision an immersive atmosphere based on the most recent archaeological, anthropological, economic, political, social, religious and cultural evidence.
Stage one of the project (fall 2005) focused on Renaissance Florence
. While that initial attempt did not “reconstruct” lost monuments, it provided a context in which to evaluate various technologies and gauge the potential and efficacy of such a program. The next stage of the program digitally rebuilds monuments at 4th century BCE Delphi, Greece with Arkansas State University.
In spring 2007, Coastal Carolina entered into a collaborative arrangement with students at Arkansas State University, under the direction of Dr. Alyson Gill, to digitally reconstruct monuments at Delphi. During 2006, Flaten and Gill met at a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute at UCLA, "Models of Ancient Rome
," which focused on the digital reconstruction projects at UCLA's Experiential Technologies Center. The collaboration between ASU and CCU began soon thereafter, and through the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Dr. Gill secured permission from the Hellenic Ministry of Culture for Ashes2Art to shoot digital panoramas from inside temples at Delphi. The two schools also will digitally reconstruct various monument and render QT flythroughs. Once completed, the virtual models will be shown to subject experts, including excavation directors, who will post comments on a password-protected Wiki collaborative platform.
Flaten and Gill will chair sessions and/or present papers on digital reconstruction projects at: The Computer Applications and Quantitative Methodologies in Archaeology (CAA) annual meeting in Berlin
(April 2007); XXI International Committee for Architectural Photogrammetry (CIPA) Symposium in Athens
, Greece (Oct. 2007); The National Endowment for the Humanities Conference: Using New Technologies to Explore Cultural Heritage, Washington (Oct. 2007); and the College Art Association (CAA) annual meeting in Dallas (Feb. 2008).
Ashes2Art also hopes to serve as an online resource for vetting 3D reconstruction projects worldwide such as those found at: ww2.coastal.edu/arflaten/Virtualtours.html
. We plan to enlist researchers from other digital reconstruction projects to establish criteria and write online reviews. As a valuable supplement to the Bryn Mawr Electronic Resources Review
, Ashes2Art will provide a unique evaluating resource focusing on a variety of available technologies, including 360 degree panoramas, 3D virtual reconstructions, interactive video and animation, archival links, data matrices, and perhaps web design, which will be reviewed by experts in the field before being posted online. No similar resource currently exists.
Ultimately, Ashes2Art hopes to provide a unique online experience. The extensive list of potential future projects includes interactive reconstructions of ancient sites in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and the Near East. In the summer of 2007 students and faculty were granted unrestricted access by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture to work at sites including Delphi, Olympia, Nemea, Epidauros. Portions of these sites will then be reconstructed during the following spring. We would like to thank the American School for Classical Studies at Athens for their help in securing permissions.
Phase two of Ashes2Art will focus on these Panhellenic sites, before moving to other locations perhaps including Samothrace, Carthage and Ephesus in phase three. Throughout the project directors of Ashes2Art will work with specialists in each field to ensure that the sites are accurately restored. As viewers navigate through these sites at his or her own speed using open-source software such as OpenSourceGraph, he or she will be able to click on objects or monuments which will then be linked to online archives, embedded metadata (searchable spreadsheets, or GIS databases, for example), topical and/or iconographic essays, online articles, a comprehensive bibliography, or any number of related topics.
Ashes2Art is an important research medium and a valuable online resource; it is also an innovative pedagogical opportunity. The potential for teacher and student learning is limitless. With very few exceptions, the entire program (including web design, research, digital panoramas, essays, 3D renderings, and video animation) is designed and built by undergraduate students. One of the research outcomes of virtual reconstructions is that the built environment offers access to new types of information about ancient sites, including the alignment of the buildings within their architectural contexts. VR models also allow us to engage a diverse set of experimental architectural problems, including lighting, ventilation and drainage reconstructions, and various engineering issues. The directors of Ashes2Art and its collaborators remain dedicated to keeping all the reconstructions, digital models, scholarly reviews, essays and resources available online, free of charge, using open-source software.