Nancy Hairston and Joanna Rowntree
How can Three Dimensional (3-D) technology benefit the field of conservation? There are many types of information that cannot be determined by calipers, the naked eye, and x-ray. This work presents the many advantages and discoveries that can be achieved through non-invasive 3-D scanning of sculpture, objects, or even paintings. These advantages and discoveries benefit the areas of conservation, authentication, archiving, and collections management. Transferring the physical object into a digital asset creates a “3-D archive”. The archive can then be applied to many uses. The data presented here demonstrates how identical pieces can be scanned and the resultant data compared and contrasted using deviation measurements and cross-sectional analysis. Volume, size, and surface area are also interpreted in minute detail to reveal differences in material shrinkage, mold-making processes, mounting, surface condition, and environmental changes over time. The archive becomes a definitive “control,” a moment in time providing a 3-D condition report displaying precise dimensional data that reveals much more than traditional reporting or even a high resolution 2-D digital camera. This 3-D digital rendition also provides scholars with a viewable representation that can be viewed at any angle on a standard PC computer. Once compressed, this archive can be shared over the Internet allowing discussion with other professionals or institutions. This allows curators and conservators to make decisions about a piece before ever touching or moving it. Because the piece is archived, its condition is frozen in time and can later be used as pre-shipping reference or a damage recovery map.