2.2 The use of high resolution spherical views for the purposes of documentation (2008)
creator(s) Ulrike Baumgart(conservator)
publisher art-documentation.com

Approaches to documentation and registration - The use of high resolution spherical views for the purposes of documentation:

Temporary and site-specific installations are an increasingly prevalent phenomenon in contemporary art. Installations within spaces that have been specifically conceived or produced by an artist facilitate a relatively consistent experience of the art work. However, our perception of site-specific installations characterised by their arrangement in space is subject to a number of variables.

In such cases, the artist's intention is manifested both in formal relationships between the objects constituting an installation, and the relationship of these objects to the space in which they are located. Factors such as the architectural features of the site thus assume greater significance.

The visualisation and documentation of complex installations within a given space has to date depended on recordings produced with the aid of photography and video. By virtue of the media employed, the spectator's view is defined by the fixed perspective from which the installation was documented.

This study investigates the potential for spherical panoramic photography as a tool for the documentation of complex installation views. A key feature of such VR (Virtual Reality) panoramas is that their use allows a viewer to determine the direction, angle and scale (close or long views) of the work's representation. A viewer can explore the entire space of the installation from the camera's position (along 360 degree horizontal and 180 degree vertical axes). The intention of the study was to critically assess the merit of such documentation with regard to professional standards. For these purposes, the technique was applied to a range of art works.

The strategy for documentation was modified on a case by case basis to suit each art work. This conveys an overview of the benefits inherent to this method. As a point of departure for the visualisation of site-specific, spatially contingent installations, a viewpoint that is as neutral and comprehensive as possible is desirable. Two further aspects of spherical documentation were also examined. First, its potential as a tool for use with condition reports on individual components of an installation was considered. In addition, its value as a guide for future reinstallations of an art work (by supplying a “visual manual” for such purposes _ see as example: Mario Merz : Isola) was assessed.

The study also gave emphasis to the coverage and documentation of video installations or installations including film and sound sequences. These examples illustrate the application options and also show the respective limits of the selected technologies, and so can facilitate the decision of the covering methods to be selected in each case and conveying a comprehensive overall impression. A covering structure worked out in advance, knowledge of the possibilities of the technology selected and the interpretation of the art work on the basis of the spectator's perception are unavoidable.

The examples set out via the further external link include firstly a text page with an introduction to the art work, followed by a description of the artist´s intention and the resulting covering strategy, as well as the application options.

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