The St Chad Gospels: Potentials for 3D in the Study of Manuscripts (Event Edit)

The St Chad Gospels: Potentials for 3D in the Study of Manuscripts (Event Edit)


Hello, I?m Bill Endres from the University
of Kentucky. I want to demonstrate some potentials of 3D for the Study of Manuscripts A challenge for digital versions of manuscripts
is to offer scholars and viewers an encounter as dynamic as having a manuscript
in their presence, one that can match on some level experiences
like the play of light on cracked pigments
or the feel of a page’s stiffness as it resists being turned,
experiences that lends themself to knowing. At the same time, digital versions
will never be the same as the physical artifact. S?gol?ne Tarte calls digital versions “avatars.”
They exist in a different reality with different rules and potentials.
They can offer unique and profound experiences of a manuscript. One way to present a digital version of a
manuscript in 3D is through video. Video flyovers offer a dynamic
interaction by taking advantage of 3D techniques and the way the
eye sees. Motion or changing stimuli are necessary for
clarity of sight. To see a 2D image clearly, the eye must make
jitter movement to keep its photoreceptors active. This is not the case
with a moving 3D image. These 3D flyovers are pages from the St Chad
Gospels, an illuminated manuscript made around 730 C.E. that I imaged
with the kind permission of the Chapter of Lichfield Cathedral. 3D flyovers offer a more intimate experience
than 2D images, giving viewers a feeling of a manuscript’s
dynamic nature, perhaps even inspiring awe as desired by the
medieval artists who illuminated the St Chad Gospels.
More importantly for researchers, 3D reveals significant information
about a page’s contours and condition, along with the layout of its text, its decorative
flow, and artistic flourishes. A 3D image combines a mesh file, representing
a page’s contours, with a texture file, providing the appearance of
the page’s surface. With 3D images, I can change their texture
files, that is, the image that covers the mesh. For the St Chad Gospels,
I took a set of at least twelve different spectral bands for each page,
ranging from near ultraviolet to infrared. I can generate a multispectral visualization
by stacking all of the images in a set and calculating values across the stack for
each pixel. These calculated values can be mathematically
represented and a color map applied
to highlight salient features. The density of data in 3D meshes offers opportunities
to generate further information. One of particular usefulness
for manuscripts is taking accurate measurements.
Holes, flaking pigments and features of letters and decoration
can be measured for conservation and scholarly purposes.
A convenient format for 3D renderings is Adobe’s PDF.
Adobe Reader includes a measurement tool. I invite you to experiment with PDFs for the
St Chad Gospels on the accompanying computer.
To rotate an image: click, hold down the mouse, and move the image around
its axis. To zoom in and out: hold down the shift-key,
click and hold down the mouse, and drag the image larger or smaller.
To reposition an image’s center: hold down the crtl-key,
click and hold down the mouse, and drag the selected point to the center
of the screen. To select the 3D measurement tool: click the
drop-down arrow beside the rotate icon on the menu bar
and select the measurement tool that is toward the bottom of the drop-down list.
To take a measurement, click the two end points for the feature
that you want to measure and your measurement appears, with the end
points marked. I am currently working with our Director of
Research Computation and Application Development, Noah Adler, to deliver
3D images of the St Chad Gospels over the Web. With the release of
WebGL, a javascript API for rendering interactive 3D images, this
has become viable. John Berger tells us, “The relationship between
what we see and what we know is never settled.”
Uses of 3D present new potentials for seeing; therefore, new potentials for knowing.
3D can supply practical data, like measurements, facilitate interaction
and tap into native ways of seeing. It opens an intriguing future, an inspiring
one, one worthy of the Digital Humanities. 1

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