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Center forDigital Humanities


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Prototyping the Past

An Introduction to 3D Modeling and Manufacturing for Historical Purposes

3D modeling and manufacturing are now ubiquitous in the news. Regardless of whether people read Wired or Boing Boing, they have probably heard about 3D printing, Maker Media, or MakerBot. However, the relevance of 3D modeling and manufacturing to historical research in the humanities may not be readily apparent to most researchers, and for good reason. As such, this workshop introduces participants to some fundamentals of modeling and manufacturing historical artifacts in 3D, with an emphasis on how scholars can "prototype the past" through computer vision, laser scanning, and photogrammetry. Participants will learn how to digitize 3D objects using free and readily available software, render them "watertight" (or conducive to fabrication), assign them metadata, and circulate them online (for downloading, resuse, and printing). We will also review the importance of perceiving and thinking about history across analog and digital materials, including the ways in which code can be transduced into objects held in hand. No technical competencies or experience with 3D modeling and manufacturing is required. However, participants will be encouraged to share ideas (and even objects) related to their current research and to bring their own laptops, if possible. For examples, we will draw upon the Kits for Cultural History project at the University of Victoria's Maker Lab in the Humanities. This project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and, in collaboration with researchers at Western University, it began in September 2013.