Monday, June 25, 2012 began an 8-week, O’Keeffe Museum Conservation Program summer preservation project. Thanks to the generous financial support of the National Center For Preservation Technology and Training (http://ncptt.nps.gov/ ), The Stockman Family Foundation and New Mexico AmeriCorps Cultural Technology community service program, we tested three, exciting, new technologies in “Computational Imaging”.
In conservation and preservation, computational imaging uses the power of today’s laptop microprocessors and digital cameras to create accurate, archival, 3-D images and documentation for artistic and cultural objects. From the microscopic texture of a paint brush-stroke to the undulating pitch and volume of a historic adobe wall, computational imaging can document and help monitor the changes in three-dimensional shape, size and deterioration of the historic properties and objects under the care of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Since we preserve, document and monitor everything from historic landscapes and historic structures to O’Keeffe’s paintings, pastels and drawings to the tiny snail and scallop shells she collected and imaged in her art, automating and increasing the accuracy of our documentation and measurements can help us get better work done, more systematically, and in less time.
Besides helping us to carefully monitor for changes in condition, the documentation greatly improves our disaster-recovery readiness – creating extremely accurate dimensional, color and texture maps of pre-disaster states for our historic structures. We found that it was possible to digitally create accurate, “blue print” drawings from the 3D models we produced using our digital photographs. We also hope that, with additional, future funding, we will be able to sinter or “print” precise, 3D replicas of O’Keeffe’s paintings and scale models of her homes that will be easily explored and experienced by sight-impaired visitors and enrich their experiences of our museum and historic sites.
New Mexico AmeriCorps Cultural Technology (NM-ACT) interns Joey Montoya of Espanola and Greg Williamson of Santa Fe joined Dale Kronkright, Head of Conservation at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, and Assistant Registrar Darrah Wills in testing three imaging processes: Reflectance Transformation Imaging, Stereo Photogrammetry and Structured Light Imaging. Each uses different algorithms to construct detailed 3-D images and data by assembling regular, 2-D digital photographs.
To make the documentation useful from a scientific perspective, the source photographic conditions, resolution and algorithmic processing pathways must be carefully documented in a digital “lab notebook”. Further, to facilitate the accurate computer comparison of 3-D features of a painting, door, window or landscape over time – to determine if features are subtly changing in ways that indicate underlying deterioration or damage – the algorithms must be able to recognize and compare L*A*B* feature data in photographs that have been taken years or decades later with different cameras, different lighting conditions and slightly different orientations. These conditions are pretty demanding! This web site documents our exploration of these technologies and our efforts to create adoptable workflows that will result in consistent and scientifically valid results.