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Wednesday, May 31 • 4:55pm - 5:20pm
(Beyond Treatment) Visualizing the Hartog Plate: An Innovative Approach

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This paper will describe a method of integrating multiple imaging techniques into a single, interactive, digital document, utilizing recent developments in data science and interactive visualization. This has led to a precise, flexible, and user-friendly documentation methodology, resulting in the integration of documentation into the conservation process itself. Allowing the conservator to annotate these digital documents during treatment provides an opportunity for optimal insight and transparency.

This method was initially developed for the conservation of the Hartog Plate, the first known object of European origin on the continent of Australia. Not only is the Plate a fascinating object in terms of material complexity, it is a document of singular importance to Australia and exploration history. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of its placement, an extensive documentation and conservation project has been carried out. In conjunction with the material stability of the object, a primary aim of the project has been to develop a methodology with which to give insight to conservators, researchers, and the general public regarding the Plate's material history, its current condition, and contemporary conservation practice.

The fragmented surface is severely corroded, and the layers of tin oxide—which contain the famous inscription—are delaminating. The greatest conservation challenge was the removal of past restorations, which were distracting from the object's readability and potentially harming the material itself. While the stabilization of the object and the removal of all unoriginal material were the main conservation goals, the documentation and presentation of its material history, condition, and conservation were imperative considering its importance as a historical document. Various complementary visualization techniques, such as x-radiography, UV-light photography, microscopy, and comprehensive 3D structured light and CT scans were implemented to gain a better understanding of aspects such as geometry, adhesion, material degradation processes, and crack propagation in the bulk. 

Given the numerous imaging data sources used in the investigation, a single self-consistent model of the Plate needed to be assembled with minimal imaging artifacts. Registering the data in this way ensures that any point in the Plate can be queried, containing all of the signals from all of the imaging modalities. With this data, statistical analyses and multimodal visualizations can help to reveal interesting or anomalous areas of the Plate for further study and documentation. All of the fused datasets for the Plate are stored in a multi-resolution format that allows for fast data retrieval. This enables real-time interactive visualization through a web-based visualization engine, providing direct access to the data via tablets and laptop computers for material analysis, treatment, and the presentation of findings. In addition, all details of the current on-screen view are encoded in the URL, enabling easy bookmarking, sharing of complex annotations, and linking relevant documents. The technologies and tools applied to the documentation and conservation of the Hartog Plate serves as an excellent example of what is already possible and the direction further developments can take.

avatar for Tamar Davidowitz

Tamar Davidowitz

Metals Conservator, Rijksmuseum
After completing her undergraduate degrees at Leiden University and at the Royal Art Academy in the Hague in Art History and Graphic Art respectively, Tamar Davidowitz earned her MA and post-graduate (PD Res) degrees in Metals Conservation at the University of Amsterdam. She went... Read More →
avatar for Robert Erdmann

Robert Erdmann

Senior Research Scientist, Rijksmuseum
With the latest techniques in the field of computer vision, machine learning, image processing, materials science and visualization theory Erdmann works to preserve, understand and make accessible visual artistic heritage. He is currently a Senior Scientist at the Rijksmuseum. Also... Read More →

Wednesday May 31, 2017 4:55pm - 5:20pm
Regency A-B Ballroom Level, West Tower

Attendees (57)