A Eureka Moment, Recreated in Film


This article is a part of our newest Fine Arts & Exhibits particular report, about how artwork establishments are serving to audiences uncover new choices for the long run.


Twenty-five-hundred years in the past in a workshop in Athens, a grasp potter and his apprentice had been making a vase depicting Hercules driving a bull to sacrifice when the potter had a eureka second — as an alternative of portray figures the standard black, why not crimson. Red? No one had ever executed that earlier than.

“Something extraordinary happened to them on that day that changed the course of history,” mentioned Alexia Roider, the artistic head of Zedem Media, an animation studio primarily based in Cyprus. By making use of some totally different substances to the clay and controlling the temperature contained in the kiln, the potter modified the colours and the consequences of the paint on the vase. (The creator is believed to be a potter often called Andokides.)

“It’s a very sophisticated technique of pottery making and the strong colors remain until this day,” Ms. Roider mentioned. “The smoke in the kiln gives you the black, and the increase in the temperature brings out the red. There are lots of advanced technologies these days, but they did it with fire and sticks.”

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, holds a uncommon vase from that interval, certainly one of solely about 55 in the world that exhibits each black and crimson determine portray. It impressed the museum’s first animated movie, “How to Make an Athenian Vase,” produced in partnership with Zedem Media.

“We wanted to portray an epiphany to help visitors appreciate the profound shift from black figure vase painting to red figure vase painting,” mentioned George Scharoun, the museum’s supervisor of exhibition and gallery media, “almost like the shift from black and white to color photography.”

The movie is a part of the museum’s effort to make use of know-how in new methods to interact guests extra deeply and extra memorably. Besides animation, the museum will use augmented actuality, pc graphics, 3-D pc modeling and sound design to create progressive shows and interactive experiences in five newly transformed galleries in the museum’s George D. and Margo Behrakis Wing for Art of the Ancient World.

“The museum is using the same tools that they use in Hollywood movies to provide new ways to understand and appreciate objects from the past,” Mr. Scharoun mentioned.

The efforts by the Museum of Fine Arts to make artwork extra accessible via know-how is an element of a bigger development, mentioned Eric Longo, government director of MCN, an affiliation for museum professionals to share practices about rising applied sciences (beforehand referred to as the Museum Computer Network).

“Most museums have increased the size of their digital teams,” he mentioned, and lots of museums now have tech labs and innovation incubators to develop and take a look at new concepts.

Digital is integral, Mr. Longo mentioned. “It’s part of museums’ missions.”

The Museum of Fine Arts’ reconfigured galleries, which open completely on Dec. 18, can have architectural enhancements like raised ceilings, new home windows to extend the circulate of pure gentle and customized casework. They will show practically 550 artworks and supply a brand new residence for its assortment of Byzantine artwork, showcase gods and goddesses, and clarify mythology’s profound position in the on a regular basis lives of historic Greeks and Romans.

Part of the aim is to spotlight the inventiveness of early Greek artists and take a look at the event of portraiture in the course of the Roman Empire. Rotating exhibitions will juxtapose historic artwork with works by 20th- and 21st-century artists to discover how they had been impressed by classical tradition. The inaugural set up will characteristic the American abstractionist Cy Twombly.

“It is one of the world’s best collections of Greek and Roman art,” mentioned Phoebe Segal, one of many curators of Greek and Roman Art on the museum.

Part of the job of a curator — the phrase comes from the Latin “to care” — Dr. Segal mentioned, “is to keep the material relevant, to make it clear to people why they should care.” Good design, wall textual content and, more and more, digital media assist try this, she mentioned.

“We would like to make the same connection in the museum when you’re faced with the original artwork as when you watch a period film,” Mr. Scharoun mentioned. “I want visitors to see ancient Greece and Rome as real places, to imagine the living, breathing people who made the objects, and the world they lived in.”

In antiquity, statues had been usually brightly painted or embellished with gilding and treasured stones, however over time, colours dissolved or had been stripped away. A 3-D digital reconstruction of the statue of Athena Parthenos might be skilled via augmented actuality obtainable on the museum’s app, in addition to in a behind-the-scenes video of the method displaying in the gallery. The purpose is to recreate how individuals in historic Rome could have seen it — in coloration.

“It allowed us to use a lot of pretty nerdy visual effects tools to visualize how Athena could have been painted, how she may have looked,” mentioned Evan Errol Fellers, a principal at Black Math, a manufacturing firm and artwork studio primarily based in Boston that collaborated with the museum.

The museum conservation crew examined hint pigments on the principally white statue of Athena utilizing particular lights and photographic methods, and chemical evaluation. A digital mannequin of the statue was then created utilizing lots of of pictures.

“It’s a technique called photogrammetry that uses triangulation to compare the similarities among photos and then reconstructs 3-D geometry based on that information,” Mr. Fellers mentioned. “Once we had that, our tools allowed us to digitally draw on the model and create photorealistic images using something called unbiased rendering, and to ‘paint’ the statue of Athena without touching the real thing.”

Some unique items of Athena had been misplaced “so with these visual effects and 3-D sculpting tools in our hands, we had the ability to recreate her missing elements,” Mr. Fellers mentioned.

“It’s very special to be working on an actual piece of art, an ancient piece of art that now has found its way to our studio for our artists to then repaint once again,” he mentioned. “It’s this delicate balance of playfully engaging these techniques and digital sculpting tools, but in a way that was respectful of the period and the original sculptor. It adds a whole new appreciation for the intricacies of the artwork.”

Sound installations are one other means to assist museumgoers decelerate, to viscerally hook up with the previous, Mr. Scharoun mentioned. A large-scale projection of footage recorded earlier this 12 months at an archaeological web site will accompany a brand new 3-D digital reconstruction of the sixth-century Temple of Athena at Assos.

The “atmospheric piece” will use audio to summon the panorama that folks lived in and can immerse museumgoers in the sights and sounds of nature, he mentioned.

“You get the same panoramic view of the ocean that the visitors to the ancient temple would have had through a kind of virtual window,” he mentioned.

In a gallery designed to evoke an early Byzantine church, guests will stand beneath a golden ceiling dome in entrance of a 10-foot altarpiece surrounded by a soundtrack of sacred Byzantine music. A small contact panel permits them to decide on particular hymns.

“You do have to stretch your imagination to appreciate the depths of time,” Mr. Scharoun mentioned. “And once you do, you can see the collection in a new way.”



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