• Introduction

    Remaking Material Culture in 3D

    This course is designed to develop your knowledge of the theory and practice of digitising material culture by producing computer generated and printed 3D models. Technologies and methods for recording tangible cultural heritage, including artefacts, buildings, and landscapes are covered, placing particular emphasis on the field of computational imaging; a field in computer science that studies the computational extraction of information from digital photographs and has democratised the process of capturing, preserving, disseminating, and promoting heritage. 3D digitisation and 3D printing will be presented both theoretically and practically, discussing the history and the state-of-the-art, best practices and protocols, and characteristic applications from various fields.

    You will develop skills in 3D digitisation and will have the opportunity to use design thinking and maker culture approaches to apply your knowledge to real-world case studies and scenarios. Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to test your knowledge via quizzes and interactive assignments. There are also many reflective moments, in which you will be asked to think about controversial aspects of 3D digitisation, respond to scenarios, and provide solutions. It would be useful to keep a reflective diary throughout this course or if you have your own blog to develop some of the exercises into more coherent blog posts. 

    By the end of this unit, you will have the ability to use digital tools and methods to record, present, and disseminate material culture in both digital and physical three-dimensional forms as well as to critically reflect on 3D heritage digitisations and your own work.

    The course is divided into four units:

    Unit I: An Introduction to 3D Heritage
    This unit will introduce you to the course by discussing three-dimensionality in relation to cultural heritage. How has it been used in the cultural and creative industries? How digital recording of 3D forms has enabled new modalities of documentation, investigation, and communication?

    Unit II: Capturing Three-dimensionality
    This unit will introduce you to tools and methods for recording 3D data, including scanning, computed tomography, Xrays, and spectral imaging, discussing principles of applications and their use in different case studies.

    Unit III: Computational Imaging
    This unit will introduce you to computational imaging, which is an extension of digital photography that allows the extraction of metric information from images and enables the creation of much richer digital representations. It covers the principles and practices of Photogrammetry and Reflectance Transformation Imaging.

    Unit IV: Structure from Motion
    This unit will introduce you to Structure from Motion, a computational imaging method to produce 3D models by using digital photographs. It will cover best practice of capturing and processing, while exploring potential and challenges in comparison to other methods. It will also explore additive manufacturing (i.e. 3D printing) and its potential for the presentation, preservation, and reconceptualisation of material culture.

    Course Developer

    This unit has been developed by Costas Papadopoulos, Assistant Professor in Digital Humanities and Culture Studies, Maastricht University, The Netherlands. Costas is an archaeologist by training, specialising in the application of digital methods, including 3D modelling and computational imaging, to archaeological datasets as a way to analyse and interpret societies of the past. Much of his more recent scholarship in digital humanities explores digital pedagogy and interactive modalities of teaching and learning. His work also involves new ways of engagement across different contexts and age groups, and how technology can be leveraged to empower non-academic audiences.

    Cover Image: Quinten Tolboom, MA Digital Cultures, Maastricht University.