University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

Font Size: 
Physically Accurate Computer Graphics: A New Visual Medium for Archaeolgy
Gareth Beale

Last modified: 2011-12-13


The dawn of physically accurate computer graphics as a form of archaeological representation has had a profound impact upon the role of the image in archaeological practice. For the first time, hypothetical reconstructions of archaeological sites and objects can feature components which are not simply convincing but which are quantifiably and demonstrably visually accurate. This development opens the door to images which are not only illustrative in nature but which, in themselves, constitute a form of analysis and enquiry.

However, despite these changes , the vast majority of images (still or moving) produced in this way are displayed upon flat screens and remain non-interactive. They must be composed, and in so many ways draw upon aesthetic, representational conventions which have characterised archaeological representation, and indeed image production more generally, in recent contemporary societies. Far from acting as a constraint upon the usefulness of these images though, these conventions contribute to the communicativeness of an image. They allow the author to invoke a shared language of images and to engage with the viewer with a fluency and dynamism which would otherwise be impossible.

In this round table I will argue that though this combination physically accurate computer graphics constitute a new visual media for archaeology. A media rooted within a conventional visual narrative through which highly accurate data can presented and curated.


Physical Accuracy, Rendering, Image, Narrative