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JISC 3D Visualisation in the Arts Network

3DVisA Bulletin, Issue 3, September 2007

ISSN 1751-8962 (Print)
ISSN 1751-8970 (Online)

Editorial by Anna Bentkowska-Kafel

'Why is it that we visualise?' There is no common understanding of digital 3D visualisation, nor will there ever be. Computer Vision offers different possibilities in different creative pursuits. The role of 3DVisA is to give voice to this richness of cognitive and methodological perspectives, and serve as a forum for discussion and exchange of knowledge.

This issue focuses on the illusion of reality in virtual representations. The familiar topos about two Greek painters: Zeuxis who fooled birds with his lifelike rendition of grapes, and Parrhasius who in turn deceived his colleague with a depiction of a curtain that Zeuxis tried to draw sums up the ambition of illusion in pictorial representation. In her response to the articles on photorealism published in two preceding issues of the 3DVisA Bulletin, Daniela Sirbu argues for the recognition of the role of the artist behind 3D computer visualisation. She also considers the debt of digital tools to traditional media, such as painting and photography, and the multiple sensory engagement that is a particular feature of virtual environments. The visual perception, or the Zeuxis effect, is no longer preferential.

In the March 2007 issue of the Bulletin Luciana Bordoni and Sandro Rubino presented the project Cerveteri Reborn. The authors stressed the value of the experience of this Etruscan site, made possible by digital visualisation. This contradicted the view expressed earlier by the artist, Christian Nold, that 'it is not possible for Virtual Reality to reconstruct the experience of place'.

Problems of experience and reality are at the heart of phenomenological interests. I have, therefore, turned for a commentary to the philosopher, Professor Hanna Buczynska-Garewicz, whose two latest books deal with the experience of time and space. I am delighted that she has accepted the invitation from 3DVisA, and is willing to share her thoughts on virtual visualisation of heritage, assessing such digital experiences from the position of her discipline. The work of the nineteenth-century German philosopher and historian, Wilhelm Dilthey, may seem an unexpected recommendation for further reading, but as Buczynska-Garewicz points out, his notions of historical understanding and empathy 'may be very helpful for 3D visualisation of the past'.

3D visualisation is possibly at its most creative in computer games. Governed by an enviable demand and favourable market forces, they enable 'a rendered view of the world' that is free from the constraints encountered in historical reconstructions. The world of computer games is bewildering. Maria Sifniotis's overview of their development, generously illustrated with examples and copious references, is very helpful indeed. She looks at the use of game engines, explaining what they are and how they have been employed in education and research. This overview provides an interesting background to four new educational projects in Second Life, supported by the UK Eduserv Foundation.

Andy Powell, Head of Development at Eduserv, explains the rationale behind this initiative and the attempt 'to try and look past the hype that surrounds Second Life in order to try and form a balanced view of its capabilities in the context of education'. 3DVisA will follow the progress of the projects and report on their outcomes (see 3DVisA Index of 3D Projects: Education). The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) has recognised the potential of computer games technology to facilitate communication, learning and research by commissioning a new study in this area. The report, Learning in Immersive Worlds. A Review of Game-Based Learning by Sara de Freitas, published by the JISC e-Learning Programme is now available online.

3D visualisation was one of the subjects of the Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA) conference held in London in July 2007. Graeme Earl reports on select presentations and on a JISC workshop focusing on e-Science and visual perceptions. The latter was followed by a discussion which addressed the role of the proposed London Charter for the Use of 3D Visualisation of Cultural Heritage. The debate continues.

I hope you will enjoy reading the articles. Abridged versions are also available in print. I wish to thank all the authors for their engaging and stimulating contributions. UK students are reminded about the 3DVisA Visualisation Award. The deadline is 15 November 2007.

Please do keep sending comments and contributions to future issues.

© 3DVisA and Anna Bentkowska-Kafel, 2007.

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