Project INDIGO

May 15, 2023 on 7:06 am | In events and press, global news, related links | Comments Off on Project INDIGO

Back in 2002, when Graffiti Archaeology was still just an idea and a shoebox full of photos, I didn’t know how the project would take shape. I was intent on capturing time, and change, and the work on the walls, but beyond that, anything was possible.

We considered building it in 3D: image-based modeling research had just started appearing in SIGGRAPH papers a few years before, so it seemed plausible. I imagined flying around in virtual tunnels mapped with photographed textures, and feeling like you were really there. But the research techniques were still experimental, and 3D on the web wasn’t really a thing yet either, so there was no easy way to share it with the world. So we set aside that fantasy, and opted for the 2D approach you see on the site, with a workflow based on production-ready tools like Photoshop and Flash.

A lot has changed since then. And last week I learned that a team in Vienna has picked up that dream and is running with it: Project INDIGO.

A timestamped, seamlessly stitched 3D model of the left bank of the Donaukanal.

Their region of interest is a three-kilometer stretch of the Donaukanal, a branch of the Danube river that winds through the oldest part of Vienna and has been a graf magnet for decades. And these folks are serious. They’re methodical, and thorough, and their goal is nothing less than complete coverage, because then it can be used for science! But they’re also serious about ethics, so they’re trying to approach it in a way that respects writers and graffiti culture.

In 2022 they held a symposium that brought together graffiti writers, archaeologists, and other academics to discuss the project. I’m still poring over the proceedings— there’s a lot in there– but I quite like what I’ve read so far.

They’re holding a second symposium next month. Wish I could be there in person!

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