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Dan Bailey
Alan Price

artist statement | technical statement | process



process

The impetus for this project was a series of 37 photographs of the Cone sisters' apartments from the 1930s. These photos have interested scholars by recording how the Cone sisters lived with, curated, and displayed their remarkable collection.
The photographs became the prime resource and motivation for reconstructing the apartments, but more information was required to depict the apartments photo-realistically.

The apartment building was still in existence, but all evidence of how the original apartments were laid out was gone because of major renovations in the 1970s. Ultimately, blueprints from 1910 of the original building were located and these along with measurements of the building's exteriors provided a floor plan. Living relatives of the Cone sisters who had visited the apartments were interviewed and this provided more information. Fortunately for the project, the Cone sisters bequeathed to the museum most of their possessions along with the artwork and this provided the ability to measure each piece of furniture as well as photograph it for texture maps.
Management of all this data (paintings, sculptures, rooms, windows, curtains, rugs, furniture) so that staff and students could efficiently access it became a major effort of the project. Ultimately, a web-based mapping system was established that located all items in a room (as determined from the photographs). This system also provided a means of assuring items were correctly located and cataloged. The map also provided a means for locating and accessing all the original photographs from their original point of views.

The bulk of the work was modeling the apartments and the furniture. In all, more than 500 objects were accurately modeled and textured in addition to the architecture and neighborhood. The database provided modelers with measurements, reference photos, and texture maps. Each room was then arranged with all the objects and checked for accuracy by The Baltimore Museum of Art curators and project directors.

Upon completion of modeling, rooms were exported to the real-time interactive animation authoring program, Virtools, which provided a robust rendering engine that could handle the size and scope of the project. This program also provided the means for interface design, interaction with objects, camera movement, navigation, and support of sound and text. Evaluation and beta testing of the first version of the project was done on-site at The Baltimore Museum of Art using museum visitors. The piece has worked successfully at the Museum for over a year and has proven to be a highlight of a visitor's experience.