Whether in the context of archaeological conservation, building information modelling (BIM/ HBIM), or visualising the ‘breath’ and mechanics of forests, the practice of laser scanning and LiDAR based 3D modelling is evolving rapidly. Given the extent to which such methodologies are utilised for scientific purposes, there are distinct ways in which 3D models themselves can be considered both ‘technical objects’ and ‘epistemic things’. As such, questions regarding both their materiality and production abound, pertaining (though not limited) to:

Concerns of ‘aesthetics’ and ‘accuracy’. In counterposing applications of laser scanning and the rendering of 3D models across a spectrum of disciplines, the event will explore the ways in which data—both visual and non-visual—are alternately compromised or prioritised to achieve specific ends.

The materiality of digital objects. As volumetric representations of physical objects, landscapes, and artefacts, 3D models are comprised of complex coordinate-based geometries. But how do we conceive of their materiality—both unto themselves and in relation to the objects and subjects they ultimately represent?

The spatial configurations of the means of production. Particularly the ways in which different arrangements of personnel, instruments, and softwares produce different sites of mediation and intervention between both human and non-human creators of 3D models.

The temporalities of 3D modelling. Given the degree to which data and acquisition and visualisation are invariably framed as a means of documentation and recording, how do 3D models relate to concerns of both phenomenological events and memory?

The framing of such practices within contemporary philosophical trends. How do knowledge producing practices both rooted in and articulated through Cartesian coordinate- based visualisation alternately gel with and challenge contemporary discourse of new materialism, phenomenology, non-representational theory?

Speaking to these questions and opening our event Clancy Wilmott (RMIT University, Australia) delivered a keynote talk on the evening of June 17, titled:

“Point-clouds, pixels and perspective: re-encountering three-dimensional visual technologies between mathematics and culture”

Three-dimensional visual technologies are proliferating in a digital age. From virtual and augmented reality, to 3D scanners and printers, they can be readily found across design, engineering, construction, medicine, architecture, art and beyond, as their volumetric capabilities can be used to map and reproduce complex space.

Drawing on a series of experimental digital 3D projects, this talk considers the interaction between the mathematical view of space including point-clouds, z-axes and LiDAR, and broader cultural and political questions of being in and working through volumetric representations and their relationship to material spaces and cultures. Asking "what are the political and theoretical implications of visualising in three-dimensions?", this discussion turns to two fundamental questions about the way in which we understand digitalities and visualities between science and culture: what are the limits of three dimensional visual technologies, and where might the political possibilities lie in the act of three-dimensional visualisation?

The keynote was supplemented the following day (June 18) with a series of presentations and panels design to expound and explore both the framing questions of the event and those that arise in response to the keynote.

The event was programmed in concert with Thinking 3D, an interdisciplinary exploration of the concept of three-dimensionality’s historic and contemporary impact on art and science taking place around Oxford throughout 2019 and across exhibitions, events, gallery shows and more.

Head to our archives for both a video of Clancy’s keynote and a textual summary of the event.