Two Professors Interpret Ancient Art with Modern Technology

It was at FIT’s Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET) last year where a costume design professor from the film department noticed Computer Animation professor John Goodwin at his workstation bringing the art of Greek vases to life.

“She mentioned my work to Prof. Alexander Nagel from the Art History and Museum Professions department who took a keen interest,” says Prof. Goodwin.

“Greek vases, the true story,” by John Goodwin”

Prof. Goodwin had replaced the central images on ancient Greek vases with illustrations from the late 1800s and animated them.

“The vases depict two mythical countries having a war because one has built a wall at their border,” says Prof. Goodwin.

“Professor Nagel liked my bringing ancient art to life with animation. He works on the arts produced at ancient sites such as Babylon in modern-day Iraq, and Persepolis and Susa in modern-day Iran.”

The first animation the two professors decided on was of a famous lion on a wall that flanked the Processional Way leading to the city of Babylon.

Much of the ancient wall, according to Prof. Nagel, was restored in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin in Germany in the late 1920s.

“I animated the lion walking off screen and then back on,” says Prof. Goodwin. “We then added text for site-specific showings.” These included conferences as well as an event at the Iraq Embassy in Washington, D.C. in May, 2019, at which time five FIT Art History majors presented their research on the art of ancient Babylonians.

Watch for the final roar!

Art History students at the Iraq Embassy where they presented their research on the art of ancient Babylonians.

Prof. Nagel next supplied high-definition images of the a Winged Griffin creature, which also once adorned the walls of a court of a building in Susa.

“After he saw the animation, he came up with ideas for enhancing  it,” says Prof. Goodwin.

FIT Digital Media Coordinator James Pearce added additional augmented reality (AI) for showing the animations in museums.

Augmented reality can create significant cost savings for museums says Prof. Goodwin. No significant equipment is necessary.  A museum-goer points a smart phone at the artwork and a video plays.

This stroll along the ancient wall is another AI project for museum and presentation use. Professors Goodwin and Nagel are developing exciting new projects for 2020. Stay tuned!

All media used with permission.

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