Category Archives: College of Science & Engineering

Paolozzi: mosaics to maquettes.

Recently Art Collections Curator, Neil Lebeter, and I made a short video interview with Professor Bob Fisher and Phd student Alex Davies of the Informatics Department. Bob and Alex have been working with the images I produced of the Eduardo Paolozzi mosaics within the DIU (for an introduction to the project click here). This cross departmental work seems particularly fitting as Paolozzi had close ties to the Informatics department. This relationship is visible in the form of several Paolozzi sculptures dotted about the Informatics building.

Using their combined expertise, Bob and Alex have been employing a number of image processing techniques on the images of the individual mosaic fragments in line with images of the original mural design, in situ at Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, London. This is to assess what percentage of the original mural we possess and how accurately it could potentially be pieced back together. The interview provides an insight into their work processes, the challenges, and uniqueness, of this particular project and the results they have found to date. It is an interesting watch!

Continue reading

Al-Biruni live on LUNA

BookReader

We are thrilled to announce that we now have online the entire manuscript of Abu Rayhan Al-Biruni, his ‘Chronology of Ancient Nations’. Al- Biruni was a famous astronomer and polymath and he completed this compendium in the year 1000. It records a vast number of calendars and chronological systems from a variety of different cultural and religious groups in the late antique and medieval periods in the Hellenic world, Central Asia and the Near East, even detailing festivals and liturgical practices.

Continue reading

Digitisation: Eduardo Paolozzi Mosaics

I have spent the past 6 weeks digitising mosaic fragments here in the DIU. Recently removed from Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, London, these mosaics were once part of a mural by the Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi that was first installed in 1984. The mosaics, now part of the University of Edinburgh Art Collection, make up about 5% of all the Tottenham Court Road murals by the artist, with the mosaics I am working on coming from the station archways more specifically. In an article for the Guardian Newspaper, London Underground’s design and heritage manager, Mike Ashworth, called this “one of the UK’s largest art conservation projects of the last decade” so I am very pleased to be involved.

Paolozzi 2

There are approximately 600 fragments of various shapes, sizes and colours spread over 42 boxes and 4 pallets. Unfortunately, the mural was not removed with conservation in mind so it is not exactly in great condition. It will be challenging to piece it all back together, first digitally and then physically. The long-term plan is to reconstruct the mural and install it within the university campus therefore giving it new life. So watch this space…!

I have been tasked with digitising each fragment. On completion, the aim is then to use the images in conjunction with image recognition software and an image of the original design, to digitally re-assemble the mural. This should provide a new digital image of the mural which will assist with the proposed physical reconstruction. The process will inform us whether areas of the mural are missing, and would need to be remade in some form.

paolozzi

On a technical level, I have been using a high-spec digital Hasselblad-H4 camera and professional, Bowens studio lights in my digitisation process. To begin with, I capture several mosaic fragments in one shot and then go on to crop, and edit, each piece individually before saving as a separate, new file. The tricky part comes in ensuring that the scale of each fragment is represented correctly with every image produced. This is why placing a ruler within each raw image capture is crucial so to allow for the mosaics to be scaled to a 1:1 ratio by resizing them in Adobe Photoshop. If the size of the fragments were to be incorrect then this could cause problems later down the line when trying to complete this digital jigsaw (see image below!). Further, the faces/upside of the mosaics must be perpendicular to the focal plane of the camera and, collectively, the mosaics must be of equal distance to focal plane. The same principles apply for the positioning of the ruler itself. This confirms that perspectives are not distorted and that the relative size of the mosaics remains consistent throughout the project.

Montage-mosaic

0069107m0069143c

Currently, I am awaiting the arrival of the pallets as I have digitised all the fragments from the boxes. The majority of what is still to come are much larger mosaics fragments. I may be required to digitally stitch multiple images together in order to produce a single image. This is because some mosaics may be too large to photograph in their entirety on the copy stand. No doubt this will raise some new challenges to overcome!

John

Project Photographer (Paolozzi Project)

Grand Tour Slide Show

Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy.

Some time ago we digitised the hand coloured glass slides in the Cavaye collection, but we didn’t have time to do the much larger black and white part of the collection. So when our project photographer John Bryden, found a bit of spare time, we were delighted to have the remaining slides completed.

The whole collection is wonderful, apparently from a Grand Tour of Europe around the turn of the 20th century. I suspect that many of the slides were bought on the trip, much like we buy postcards today. Some of them were probably only lovingly hand tinted on return to Britain- in one of Palermo the tinting appears to be half finished. Continue reading

DIU Moving Image Update

The work that DIU are developing around moving image has grown considerably in the last two years and the demand for moving image has increased exponentially with each new film produced. We now have around twenty two separate projects archived on the servers, some of these include up to six films in one project.  A good example of that is the Curators short films that appear on the Universities Collections web page. Recently we produced an exhibition introduction film for Towards Dolly : A Century of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh. The Dolly intro film features on the University Collections page, social media and also on the Towards Dolly exhibition App. This is the second exhibition App we have contributed to which is proving a popular way to deliver content. The izi App is a free download from the Apple App store and contains information on the Dolly and “Out Of The Blue” exhibitions. We have also made our first contact with digitising 8mm film in the form of Eric Lucy’s “Drosophila Egg” for the Towards Dolly exhibition which is currently open.

Projects under way at writing include time-lapse films “Documenting the Redevelopment of St Cecilia’s Hall” the first section of which you can see below. This section is the very early stages and we are now starting to film the deconstruction of the 1960’s caretakers flat. This is an ongoing project which shall also include film of musical instrument conservation work to be shown on screen within the new development and musical performance using the collection itself.

The performances captured already include the exhibition opening concert for “The Stuart Sound” exhibition currently open in the Centre for Research Collections which featured a beautiful performance of the anonymous, ”  but probably” Padua Lute circa 1620. Also captured are the recording sessions from the Edinburgh College Music Box Studio. These are active projects still to be completed.

In addition we have created seven two minute films as content for the upcoming Main Library guide App soon to be released on the Apple and Android App stores. We also have a ton of footage still to be bashed and coerced into a watch-able form. Watch this space for new material soon.

Malcolm Brown, Deputy Photographer.

2 and 3D Reflections

IMG_0334-2It is hard to believe that more than a month has passed since the fantastic “2 and 3D: Practice and Prophecies” Conference at the Rijksmuseum in April. So much was packed into those 2 short days: standardisation in colour and targets (who knew standards were so non-standard?), mass-digitisation and bespoke object specific photography techniques, panoramas, multispectral and 3D imaging, digital asset management and the role of photography in heritage institutions. This was a heritage photography event not to be missed, which is why I was delighted when the Association for Historical and Fine Art Photographers (AHFAP) offered me their competition bursary to attend. I gathered so much information in Amsterdam that I am still sifting through the notes and links and chasing up my post –conference ‘to do’ list! However, I would like to share a few of my highlights from the conference. Continue reading

Monsters & Maps Printed under the Watchful Dog

0057235d

Last week Mercator’s beautiful Atlas sive Cosmographicae found its way into the DIU, only after it arrived did we discover that it was actually his 503rd Birthday, a fact celebrated by google with a Google Doodle http://www.google.com/doodles/gerardus-mercators-503rd-birthday.

Continue reading

Explore the Geology with LUNA

LUNA3

Last week we were very excited to see a new LUNA collection go live- ‘Geology & Geologists’. This brings together images from the CRC’s Lyell collection (a wonderful mixture of correspondence and drawings), Arthur Holmes Geology medals, as well as recent images from The Cockburn Museum, School of GeoSciences. The Cockburn collection contains photographs of past Professors, and historic photos of the department as well as plates of fossilised fish.

Continue reading

The National Monument of Scotland

Playfair, William Henry (b.1789, d.1857)  Return of Western Portico, 1826

Playfair, William Henry (b.1789, d.1857) Return of Western Portico, 1826

The Digital Imaging Unit has digitised many architectural drawings held in University of Edinburgh special collections over the years. They always present a challenge because of thier scale. They offer a fascinating glimpse of history in relation to many of the buildings in Edinburgh that we are familiar with on a daily basis. I think many of us have a positive relationship with the National Monument more commonly known as the Acropolis on Calton Hill. Continue reading

Tagged , ,

3 Additions to the LUNA Book Reader Collection

ScreenGrab01

We kick off 2015 with the addition of 3 new Book Readers added to LUNA. The first two are both music manuscripts that came down to the DIU as part of the Readers Orders trolley. It is not often that we receive volumes to be digitised in their entirety this way, so it seemed a good opportunity. As a result we spared a bit of time to do the additional work to prepare them for the book reader software after the High Resolution images had been delivered to the customers. Continue reading