Dennis West and Dr. Seth Holladay, Computer Science
What was it like to visit a gothic cathedral in the thirteenth century? That is the question that is explored in Amiens Cathedral: City of God. The purpose of this project was to illustrate the experience a medieval citizen of Amiens would have had upon visiting the Cathedral of Amiens. This was accomplished through researching dimensions and original construction of the cathedral, and illustrating how the stained glass and other art accentuates the sermons presented.
3D computer graphics were utilized to create the cathedral in a newer form, restoring some of the elements that have been lost over the years. The project portrays the interior of Amiens and the uplifting gospel narrative the cathedral offers as the travelers through it are transported from the mundane outer world into the sublime, otherworldly environment of stone and colored light. Animation in the stained glass illustrates how the images presented there aid in bringing the message of the sermons to life.
This project was completed at the end of Winter semester, and is being exhibited on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/92772281.
Beginning Date of Project: 30 April 2013
End Date of Project: 22 April 2014
The benefits of a project such as this is to show how computer graphics can create a virtual recreation of ancient art and architectural sites. Future similar projects could include the recreation of tombs from Egypt, temples and other monuments from ancient Greece or Rome, or entire cities from lost civilizations. These 3D graphics can then be assembled in a video game engine to give students and other interested individuals the ability to navigate their way through the sites and explore on their own from the convenience of their own home.
The stained glass animation serves to illustrate what the imagery presented in sites such as this cathedral meant to the parishioners, many of whom were illiterate and did not have access to the written word.
This is the BFA senior project of Dennis West who graduated in April 2014 with a BFA in animation and a minor in English. All of the research, writing, and CG modeling, animation and final image creation was done by him.
Seth is the primary faculty mentor and endorser of this project. He advised Dennis on technology through all aspects of this project and used his years of experience in the film industry to ensure that the final footage displays a high level of professional realism. Throughout the duration of this project Dennis was enrolled in Special Problems in Animation classes under Seth.
James Swensen was a faculty mentor for the Art History research that will be required for the historical accuracy of this project.
Stephen Murray is a renowned authority on Amiens Cathedral and has written several books on it and other examples of Gothic architecture and art. Upon completion of this project, his response was, “I looked at your production and thought it was beautiful… I particularly liked the traveling shots in the nave with the original aisle windows in place–one gets a real sense of the compressiveness of those spaces. Would you mind if we use a clip of the movie in our Art Humanities course at Columbia?” It is gratifying to have such a response from Dr. Murray and I am encouraged that this project may serve as a guide for the work that Columbia University is looking at doing in the coming year as they move forward on updating their own materials on Amiens Cathedral.