Mood boards: Comfort

Looking at the interior of Bodiam today, particularly if visiting on a cold wet day, it is hard to imagine it being a comfortable space. I brought together images of furnished space: such as Dover Castle with manuscripts of household scenes. These I felt elicited a feeling of warmth and comfort similar to those used in stock photography as seen here.

Mood Board: Comfort

Mood Board: Comfort

Comfort visualisation

Comfort visualisation

Image sources:
Detail of a miniature of the birth of Alexander the Great, at the beginning of book 5, from the Miroir Historial (translated by Jean de Vignay from Vincent of Beauvais’s Speculum Historiale), Netherlands (Bruges), 1479-1480, (British Library, MS Royal 14 E I, vol 1, f.177v-178r) (BritishLibrary 2014f)
Delilah shearing Samson’s Hair, by the workshop of the Boucicaut Master (Pierpont Morgan Library, MS M 394, f 112) (TheMorganLibrary&Museum 2014)
Griet
Penshurst Guidebook
Newboult, J. & Newboult, E., 2014. Rye Jug. Trinity Court Potteries: Medieval Replicas webstire. Available at: http://www.trinitycourtpotteries.co.uk/1Contact details.htm [Accessed November 21, 2014].
Griet, 2012. Augustinus, La Cité de Dieu, Paris, Maître François, c. 1475-1480. Wikipedia. Available at: http://wiki.reenactor.ru/index.php/Изображение:Augustinus,_La_Cité_de_Dieu,_Paris,_Maître_François,_c._1475-1480(9).jpg [Accessed December 1, 2014].
Photo of the Barley Hall, York courtesy of Alexis Pantos
Northern Dutch Book of Hours from 1489. Haarlem manuscript with miniatures by the hand of the Dutch artist Spierinck.
The Hague, KB, 76 F 10 fol. 42r The deathbed of St. Hubert of Liège

Mood Boards: Eating

It has been a long time since I have updated. I completed my PhD at the beginning of December (2014), viva’d in February and finally had my corrections confirmed at the beginning of the month. Having spent a busy month somewhere in between working at Winchelsea (http://cma.soton.ac.uk/events/2015/04/winchelsea-medieval-port-project/) and Bucklers Hard (http://cma.soton.ac.uk/events/2015/04/shipwrightery-at-bucklers-hard/)

This post is going to discuss the first of a series of mood boards I created as a way of engaging with the 3d model of the private apartments at Bodiam as part of my PhD. The idea was that discussions (and critiques) surrounding archaeological visualisation have tried to engage with subjectivity and uncertainty in different ways. I suggest the presenting the representations of the past alongside some of the source images used to create them. Each of the boards I have created is themed around some element of medieval life or experience.

The board in this post relates to eating. Stock images from sites such as GettyImages tend to focus on people physically eating rather than things associated with that task.

Eating (7)

Eating (1)

Image sources:
Queen Elizabeth receiving the Dutch ambassadors. Painted between 1570-75 the artist is unknown. It is currently at Neue Galerie, Kassel, Germany. (Jokinen 2008)
Luttrell Psalter Featuring the Lord at Dinner (Copyright 1989 The British Library Board)
(British Library, Royal MS 14 E III, f. 76v) (BritishLibrary 2014e)
(Royal MS 19 D II f. 273r)(BritishLibrary 2014g)
The Book of the Queen – Christine de Pizan in her study – by Master of the Cite Des Dames in 1410 (British Library, MS Harley 4431, f. 4r)
The Coronation Chair, Westminster Cathedral (BBCHistory 2014).
The Portable Antiquities Scheme/ The Trustees of the British Museum (TheBritishMuseum 2011b)
British Library Royal 14 E iii, miniature of King Arthur’s Court.

Acoustics and Ocularcentricism

At the end of my last post I commented that “It feels strange working visually to produce something that is going to be used to model noise”. Equally I find the same is true when reading articles discussing acoustics in the past when they use graphs and plans to illustrate acoustical features. I am taking this blog to explore some of my thoughts on acoustics and how it is visually explored. This is by no means a polished exploration just some thoughts I have had.

I know on some level I struggle to understand them as I’m not an engineer and don’t work so much with the mathematical modelling of acoustical spaces. However, I do wonder if this is more to do with the Ocularcentric approaches currently employed in archaeology to feel the need to make a graph to demonstrate our ideas. This quote from Devereux and Jahn (1996)“it is instinctively felt that sound is too immediate and ephemeral” highlights to me why we might feel the need to work in visual display. By discussing acoustics in terms of its visual display to some extent we are making our results more “scientific”. Having equally seen a hand clap described as “a single loud percussive noise” (Waller 1993) I feel we are trying to move beyond the more phenomenological areas of working in Archaeoacoustics.

My other concern is that we are imparting our interpretations of the past with a modern mindset. Most of the spaces being discussed are monuments or sites from prehistory would they have been understood in the same visual depictions that we are using to demonstrate the spread of sound?

Despite these thoughts I equally agree it is very hard to describe the results of this kind of work without graphs and plans to demonstrate clearly what we mean. As seen in my previous post I myself have to visually model a room to be able to acoustically model the space, this is how the technology has developed.

A lot of the work done in Archaeoacoustics has been trying to line up Acoustical phenomena with visual stimuli. The most obvious example is the large body of work undertaken on Rock Art sites these include but are in no means limited to the Radio 4 documentary NOISE, (Reznikoff 2008; Waller 1993; Scarre & Lawson 2006). Rock painting is not the only application other papers also link “impressive visual backdrop[‘s]” (Watson & Keating 1999) to acoustical interesting spaces or examine spaces both a visual and acoustical way to compare the results (Wozencroft & Devereux n.d.). These are all fascinating and I am generally intrigued whether the locations were chosen due to acoustical phenomena already present in the natural environment or whether the construction of a site was intended to produce acoustical affects. Today acoustical engineering forms a subject in its own right. This does not mean we can entirely predict the acoustical properties of a building; we cannot model in the same way we can the aesthetics. Buildings are still constructed with errors in the acoustics. For example this lecture theatre has had to have the acoustics adjusted (the fabric boards, an absorbing material, cover holes in the wall designed to scatter sound).

This leads me to believe that most acoustical properties related to monuments are accidental creations rather than created in the design. A modern example of this is the Whispering Gallery at St Paul’s cathedral (see Here for more details). Then potentially once discovered these properties are exploited or further explored in future constructions.
I presume that considering even now with knowledge of how acoustics can be manipulated we don’t always get it right that the latter idea wasn’t true.

Devereux, P. & Jahn, R.G., 1996. Preliminary investigations and cognitive considerations of the acoustical resonances of selected archaeological sites. Antiquity, 70, pp.665–6.

Reznikoff, I., 2008. Sound resonance in prehistoric times: A study of Paleolithic painted caves and rocks. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 123(5), pp.4137–4141.

Scarre, C. & Lawson, 2006. Archaeoacoustics, Cambridge: Oxbow Books.

Waller, S., 1993. Sound reflection as an explanation for the content and context of rock art. Rock Art Research, 10(2).

Watson, A. & Keating, D., 1999. Architecture and sound: an acoustical analysis of megalithic monuments in prehistoric Britain. Antiquity, 73, pp.325–36.

Wozencroft, J. & Devereux, P., Landscape-perception. Landscape & Perception project 2007-2012. Available at: http://www.landscape-perception.com/acoustic_mapping/ [Accessed July 11, 2013].

Ways of Seeing the English Domestic Interior: Workshop 3

Through my supervisor Graeme I have become involved with the Ways of Seeing the English Domestic Interior, 1500-1700: the case of decorative textiles research network. I attended the first workshop in Southampton which introduced everyone to the network and began to explore how we can apply computing techniques to further explore how we might enhance our understanding of how the domestic interior was experienced in early modern England. (This might sound a bit familiar…)

On the 19th March I attended the third workshop. The aim of the day was to explore how eyetracking technology can be exploited towards the understanding of visitor experience of 17th century painted cloths at Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire.

Owlpen Manor, Gloucestershire.

Owlpen Manor, Gloucestershire.

The day began with two groups of volunteers being “wired up” to the eyetracking hardware. The first thing to consider and why we can undertake this kind of experiment is that the eye does not work in the way we think it does. Eyes do not pan smoothly like in a film instead move in a series of small jerks. They actively only focus clearly on a very small area at the centre of the eye. The best way to think about it is that they essentially create lots of static images that focus on a small area. This means you are never too aware about exactly where you are looking and you can’t try and think too much about where your looking and don’t understand so the effect of wearing the headset is not to great.

Example of how someone is wired up the eyetracking equipment

Example of how someone is wired up the eyetracking equipment

How the eye captures information

How the eye captures information

The first of these groups was a group of undergraduate and masters students while the second comprised of *experts* from the research network. The intention was to explore the effects of expertise on the way people are viewing the interiors of the room and the effect of knowledge. Each person was individually wired up to the equipment and given time to get use to wearing it. Then they were taken to the Great Chamber (Queen Margaret’s Room) here their responses to the room were recorded a number of times. The first observation was recorded to observe the difference between the two groups of volunteers. Each individual was then provided with more information about the room and the wall painting and sent back into the room with the intention to observe which areas were focussed on in more detail or not.

Queen Margeret's Room

Queen Margeret’s Room

Some preliminary results saw a huge difference in the way an expert was looking at the room as opposed to the student they were compared with. Students tended to move their gaze to try and take in everything whereas the expert took much more time paying close attention to the painted cloths.

The day then turned to a series of talks by people involved with the project, firstly with an outline of the project to date. This was followed by a talk on Owlpen Manor and specifically the Painted Cloths displayed in the Queen Margaret room which we observed during the eyetracking experiment. The painted cloths are thought to be the only complete example of a decorative scene of interior decoration of this form the scene details the biblical story of Joseph. They were a cheaper substitute for tapestries before the introduction of wall papers and were produced by guilds until around 1502 and were considered out dated by the 17th century. Although no longer in situ they represent a complete scene and only are missing the bottom border when in the 1960s they were moved from a different bedroom during a cleaning at the same time. This move has been questioned as to whether the move would have affected the story at all? Whether areas of the border would have an effect or whether they are placed into a different order or were designed for the original space. The talk also touched on whether the effect of the cloth on walling affected the experience of the space if they had been painted with the same scenes with some discussion on the acoustical effects on the space.

This led into a discussion of the direction the research network wishes to go in. In September 12th and 13th there will be a conference presenting the results of the research network. The papers from the conference are to be published in a Textiles journal, should be consider publishing more widely? Especially considering the number of methods used. We discussed the achievements of the network so far. Feel that with a range of specialities have allowed an engagement with objects and spaces that has not been possible until now. Highlighted that there are different kinds of viewing and the type of space or display affects the interaction with the objects or textiles. Particularly in reference to this was the assessment of the critical eye. We do not just look with our eyes but want to manipulate the objects in the space they are in or change the lighting conditions. In reference to this context is very important to link the space and object when considering them in their historical context and how they were experience in the past. For example the lighting conditions at Owlpen Manor were very different and had a different effect on the viewers to examining objects at the Ashmolean. As such when we are considering the experience of an object we need to respond to how we think about the narrative associated with these objects or spaces.

Following the conference it was unanimous that the research network did not want to be downgraded but hoped it would continue in one way or another, maybe setting up a research project. Consider moving forward into looking more at how the computer techniques that have been demonstrated could further the work. There was a bit of a struggle considering whether we could apply them appropriately there is a lot of archaeological theory associated with how visualisation technology can be applied to explore these issues and whether we can examine the experience of those examining/ creating these items when they were created. Whereas the heritage professionals wished to apply the technologies as a technique for reverse designing for museums and engagement impact in schools. Consider more how people are engaging with objects today and allowing greater access to collections. Consider if these techniques can be used to track engagement with real vs. non real objects. With a focus from the Shakespeare Birthplace staff suggesting it would be interesting to examine audience perception of performance props costume etc.

I found it really interesting to engage with people who did not have such a background in computing and survey. They were very interested in engaging with new technologies in the same way as I am working in for my thesis but without the background understanding of visualisation and archaeological theory. Whereas I had not thought so much about the cultural heritage applications. It was a really interesting day and I am hoping to become more involved with the network over the coming months.

First renders and thoughts on beams

I had a supervision yesterday with my supervisors Prof. Matthew Johnson and Dr. Graeme Earl where we discussed the first renders I had produced of my model so far. These images just detail the internal space: windows, fireplaces and doorways, and my first attempts at putting a roof and floors on the building.

I had been reading a lot around the subject of timber building construction to try to understand the appearance or these types of building. My first port of call was Richard Harris’s Discovering Timber-Framed Buildings this excellent little book explains the construction of these buildings in great detail with lots of helpful, clear diagrams. Based on his writings I started to plan the distances and shapes of my beams and how they would slot together. The following image is the results. I have just added some basic textures and materials to the renders to give an idea about the space that is not bright pink. I also realise that my smoothing groups need playing around with a bit.

Shape of beam bays

Internal beams upper floor

Ground floor showing beamed roof

A window and fireplace from the upper floor

The space the beams need to cross is quite short (about 5m) so there was no need to think about having to bridge the gap using a tie beam or similar approach. The distance the bays are placed apart does not seem to be set. I choose to space them evenly across the entire span about 5m apart as this “looked right” based on photos of other Medieval Roofs I had been using for reference (see below). Before spacing them apart I had to also consider the shape of this part of the frame. I had been looking at the above images of roof beams and decided to not go with a Crown Post and instead use 2 slanting Queen posts.

Wilmington Priory timber roof

Portchester Castle

Brockhampton Estate: The Great Hall

Presenting these images to Graeme and Matthew highlighted a few errors. Matthew suggested that the angle I had used for the Queen Posts was much too slanted, which is indicative of later buildings. Instead he suggested that it would be much more interesting to include a Crown Post or make the Queen Posts vertical.

As there are a number of options instead of just making one decision about how the roof is structured Graeme suggested that instead I create a number of different models with different roofing options, including a crown post and not, moving the number and position of bays around a bit to see if there are any obvious options for lining them up. We also discussed whether there would have been a ceiling concealing these beams. I had always assumed that the rooms would be open to the roof as this is common in halls. I had not really considered putting a ceiling in place on this upper floor.

What I had not considered was how much this changed the appearance of the upper apartment. Until now I had been thinking about them as looking fairly similar situated one above the other. However. when the roof is in place it will transform the upper apartment making it feel much larger and more open. Whereas the lower apartment will feel much more contained.

The second discussion point coming from the meeting was in reference to the beams and how decorated they were or not. We had been discussing them in terms of ornamentation of the type found at Ightham Mote (see previous blog). I asked whether, considering the lack of architectural ornamentation found at Bodiam, the beams, which would be cheaper to carve, would also be devoid of decoration. I had been thinking about it a lot as I need to decide whether I am going to shape them sooner rather than later. Matthew suggested that the question was even more complex as unlike a lot of slightly earlier buildings the household was not a peripatetic one, it was solely based at Bodiam. Which we would have assumed that more of the building would be decorated as it would not have had to have been moved around. So wondering whether the more decayed areas of the building are as plain as the rest of it is a very hard question, which I have yet to find an answer for.

Ightham and ornamentation

Much of this blog so far has concerned itself with Bodiam Castle and the work I am doing there. I have just completed a week of fieldwork in Kent and on the first day I spent a morning at Ightham Mote. My intention was to photograph various areas around the hall and see how the roofs are put together.

Ightham Mote, Kent

While looking around I began to think about the experience of entering the great hall. Unlike at Bodiam Ightham has much for ornamentation on the structure of the building. There are decorative panels around the doorways and most importantly a series of engraved faces at the bases of the roof arches. These face in a range of directions and feature different characters. The first of these would have been encountered at the entrance to the hall these feature two (now somewhat eroded) faces. On another entrance in the courtyard the two faces are both gurning one looking sad and the other happy. The two faces on the entrance to the hall could have depicted similar features.

Smiling face to right of door

Sad face to left of other door

Closeup of one of the faces

Entrance to Great Hall faces can be seen on the archway

Other entrance from courtyard

Once through the door you now enter a new entrance room whereas just after the initial construction you would have entered directly into the hall. Another of these faces now greats you from directly opposite the entrance. This one is positioned as if he is holding up the hall. He looks under great strain. This could have links to the idea of lordship in feudal society. It could give suggestions of social status. It is also interestingly positioned at the lower end of the hall.

Figure opposite entrance

As one turns into the hall from this position there are two more sets of faces at the bases of the main beams in the hall. One set at the centre of the room look intently up towards the head of the room. This could be another architectural social cue. The building could be giving instructions through the architecture to those entering it. These figures show how those sitting below are meant to act towards their lord.

Figure at centre of hall

At the very head of the room are two final figures each with large shoulders again holding up the roof. These are looking back down the room at those seating below it. These ones are harder to read. They to some extent look like they are wearing masks.

Figures at head of hall

At Ecclesiastical sites architecture provides visual cues to convey social expectations particularly about what behaviour is expected or what they are expected to be thinking about. In an age where most people were not literate an image or visual cue would convey and have much more meaning than the written word (Woolgar, 2006: 179-180)(D. L. C. Clark, 2007). These figures might be being used to convey similar information about what is expected of the illiterate in this context.

Reference

Clark, D.L.C., 2007. Viewing the liturgy: a space syntax study of changing visibility and accessibility in the development of the Byzantine church in Jordan. World Archaeology, 39(1), pp.84-104. Available at: http://www.informaworld.com/openurl?genre=article&doi=10.1080/00438240601148798&magic=crossref||D404A21C5BB053405B1A640AFFD44AE3 [Accessed October 29, 2010].

Woolgar, C.M., 2006. The Senses in Late Medieval England, London: Yale University Press.

Merchants House Southampton

Last week I went on a trip round the Medieval Merchants House in Southampton with Jude Jones a fellow PhD student with a love of beds!

The house has been restored to its mid 14th century apparence and filled with reconstructed furniture of the period. Although a merchants house I found the visit useful to help me visualise filled living spaces.

The first thing to note is how, like I found at Dover, there is a limit amount of furniture. Unlike Dover, it was much harder to get photos of entire rooms, this is because the rooms were much smaller.

The presence of the furniture was also very helpful, again as at Dover, it was all very gaudy and brightly coloured. But Jude commented on the fact that it was much faded from its original colours (she has been visiting the building for a number of years).

Brightly Coloured Chest

Finally the main reason for the visit was to be able to look at the construction of two Hung Beds found in the upstairs bedroom. I was able to see how they appear in a room as well as see how they are put together and covered in textiles.

Hung Bed

I will hopefully be allowed to return when they put away the beds for the winter, by taking them down and removing all of the textiles as this will allow me to see more about their constrcution.

Hello world

This first blog post I will use to quickly fill in the gaps of what I’ve said I’m aiming to do and what I’ve actually done.

I have been playing around with starting a blog for a while and I must admit it is more for me to keep track of what I’m doing and how I’m doing it than for anyone else. I think my aim is to keep my digital ideas categorized separately so those with a lot more experience can quickly skip over the pain staking things and only read the (hopefully) interesting results or ideas of what I’m doing.

So to begin I am about to embark on my first project of modelling the private chambers at Bodiam Castle. These can be seen in this image (thanks to Prof. Matthew Johnson for the photo)

To start on this I took part in a two week field season in April 2011. I worked with Penny Copeland, James Miles, Pete Wheeler and the Arch2024 students to produce the east elevation of the castle using a total station connected to AutoCAD using TheoLT.

This completed elevation I proceeded to import into 3ds max. I will be using the survey data as a guide to shape my model of the rooms. I am currently exploring different methods of building up the shape of the rooms (the position of the walls and their heights). I have tried using lines to draw around the edges and am also experimenting using Standard primitives and using them to create Pro-Boolean objects. I am also trying to begin to cut holes into these completed walls as I think this will help determine which option is better suited.

I have also been thinking about the issues associated with the data. The survey data is incredibly detailed because of this I am having a hard time making decisions about how closely I should follow it and also how to interpret a number of the lines. This has led to lots of discussion with Alice Watterson (http://digitaldirtvirtualpasts.wordpress.com/) about the process of reconstruction and how we can bridge the gap between our observation of the site today in the present, and our visualisation of the past. It has also led to me questioning how I can fill in the gaps of my data (where walls no longer exist) and how I can build this uncertainty into my visualizations.