PRESENTATION | Painted Space: 3D modelling Early Modern paintings from Awadh, India

Dr. Keshani will present on the Model Images project on Monday Nov. 2, 2015 at the scholarly gathering Digital Approaches in the Study of Early-Modern Visual Culture in Canberra, Australia. The Convenors are Robert Wellington, The School of Art Centre for Art History and Art Theory, ANU and Stephen Whiteman, The Power Institute at the University of Sydney. The gathering is funded with the generous support of
The ANU Research School of Humanities and Arts Visiting Scholars Fund and The Power Institute at the University of Sydney.

Suppose you decided to build a detailed 3D model of an 18th century miniature painting from Awadh, India. The painting is of an elaborate and architecturally complex gardenpalace with bejewelled women enjoying music and drugs. Space is represented with a distinctive Early Modern Indian hybrid of perspective and orthographic techniques, an entanglement of Anglo-European and late-Mughal spatial representation conventions. How does one go about converting the space represented into space a 3D modelling program can live with? What new kinds of questions or insights does making the model generate about the painting, the portrayal of space, and the gazes within, if any? Finally, what do you do with the model? How do you present and explicate what the model offers and what practical value and possibilities exist beyond the realm of scholarship? This paper chronicles the research process of the MODEL IMAGES project and examines the scholarly and practical values of making digital objects as a form of scholarship about transcultural visual cultures of Early Modern India. It proposes that the 3D modelling of paintings makes a worthwhile addition to the range of visually/spatially based methods of interpreting visual culture. The implication being that visual cultural analysis need not be a mostly textual affair, but one that necessarily entails the production of the visual.

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