University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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The Paradox of Translating Reality into Photorealism: From Fieldwork and Recording to Computer Graphic Interpretations
Constantinos Papadopoulos

Last modified: 2011-12-13


The complexity of an archaeological project, a product of historical processes and excavation, is increased by the ways archaeologists approach excavation itself, the recording mechanisms employed and the methods used to organise the documentation. All these factors transform the material world as it is experienced, flattening both the qualities of three-dimensional space and archaeological chronotopes. By critically evaluating the constraints that conventional recording methods pose to the interpretation of archaeological information, this paper aims to discuss how these two dimensional constructs, which inherently carry mentalities, ambiguities, contradictions and world views, are utilised and transformed into three-dimensional simulations in an attempt to visualise, research and understand past experiences, attitudes and structures. In the course of this presentation we will try to address the following fundamental issues, suggesting that in order to be able to effectively materialise the archaeological evidence, visualisation experts should be aware of the  various perceptual, physiological and technical factors that affect the process of interpretation, visualisation and reconstruction:

How do different excavation methods, archaeologists and ways of recording affect the understanding of the evidence?

To what extent do the various recording methods manage to accurately capture the archaeology of a site by using established conventions?

How is the perception of three-dimensional data influenced by established practices?

How all these parameters affect the process of visualisation by means of computer graphic simulations?

And finally, is it possible to overcome the paradox that in our work we produce three-dimensional constructs by using two-dimensional information, which has been produced by flattening tree-dimensional evidence?


computer graphic simulations; fieldwork; recording; interpretation; visualisation