24 March 2016
by Kate Le Versha
Venice Fellow, Bernadette Devilat, created this video as part of her research. Using cutting-edge 3D scanning technology, she documented the 2014 exhibition for the Venice Architecture Biennale 'A Clockwork Jerusalem' within the British Pavilion. Bernadette tells us about her film and her expereience of the Venice Fellowship scheme.
Please tell us about this film! What was exciting about the technology you used?
3D laser scanning is a quick recording technology that provides a measurable 3D digital model of the buildings, coloured and with precision to a matter of millimetres. Images, technical drawings, videos and even physical models can be generated from this method in a short period of time. This technology is currently applied in different ways in a range of fields, but applications and products focused in its relation to changing environments, such as exhibitions, can be of great importance.
What if we want to preserve the experience of an exhibition in a particular space to visually explore it in the future? What if we would like to have a digital record of it for future generations? Or to be recreated again?
What if we can record an exhibition in such a way that we would obtain both what it has displayed and the space that hosts it? 3D laser scanning technology can be a useful way to build that kind of record. Using a laser that measures every detail in the building, and photos that deliver the colour information, a 3D laser scanner can provide a three-dimensional model in the form of a point cloud that can be edited and used for different outcomes.
How did you go about making it, and why?
The 3D laser scanning of the British Pavilion was done in the context of the Venice Biennale Fellowships, in which I participated during November 2014. The opportunity to make this 3D record was possible thanks to the presence of a group of students and professors —Diana Cochrane and Adam Cole— from Kent University in Venice, who were there for a workshop using their university’s Faro Focus 3D scanner. The equipment was facilitated by them to obtain the 3D data of the British Pavilion as part of a collaboration with The British Council; the organisers of the fellowship’s scheme.
Considering this opportunity and that I knew how to use the 3D scanner and to process its information, I decided to change the research I initially proposed in order to make the most of the 3D scanning of the British Pavilion. I thought that it was very important to have captured the exhibition and the host space together, using this type of record as it became unique.
Special thanks to Alastair Donald, Gwen Webber and Francesco Raccanelli, from the British Council, for making the necessary arrangements and for supporting this research idea; to Julien Soosaipillai for operating the 3D scanner with me; and to the students from Kent University for participating in the data acquisition process too. All post processing of the 3D scanned data –alignment, 3D model, video and images - was completed by me after the data capture.
What were the challenges and did you gain any interesting insights or find surprising outcomes in creating the film?
The main challenge was that the 3D scanning of the British Pavilion had to be done quickly, in order not to interfere with the large number of visitors. Because of that, only a few scans were possible, which meant that the detail of the record is not as good as it could be. This posed a challenge when creating the film. The other interesting aspect when creating the film was how people were part of the record. Usually, 3D scanning technology does not capture moving targets, but because visitors were plenty, their silhouettes were part of the record.
What were your favourite elements of the Clockwork Jerusalem exhibition?
I think the exhibition was good as an overall experience. Each room had its own character and covered a specific moment of history, which is why the 3D scanning made perfect sense as a recording media. Personally, I most enjoyed the last room with the utopian visions, and seeing how architects imagined the future in the past.
What were your highlights from your 2014 Venice Biennale Fellowship?
I personally had a great experience. The opportunity of living in Venice for a month was very special, as it is uncommon for such a tourist-centric place. It was interesting to get the real sense of the city by temporarily living in it and to experience a more daily and ordinary type of life, which sometimes is obscured by a large number of visitors. The opportunity to visit cultural buildings and archives in Venice was good for my own research, and also to visit great architectural spaces, such as Carlo Scarpa's works. The group of people which I worked with was also great, so overall it was an amazing experience.
What did you learn from the experience and how has it informed your own work or research?
I learned more about the history of modern architecture in Britain and I got a sense of what an important event the Biennale of Venice is for the architecture discipline and its impact after being part of it. For my own work, the experience of using the 3D scanning to record this exhibition has been informing my own research, which is concerned about the role of record for new and existing architectures, and its role in the re-construction of heritage buildings.
The 2016 Venice Fellowship scheme is open for applications until April 1 2016. For more information and to apply read our blog post.