Who would have thought that Notre Dame would be destroyed by fire, and that a relatively accurate 3D model of what it would have looked like could be found in Assassin's Creed in 2014, more realistic than the game was the laser scan of Notre Dame documented by American art historian Andrew Tallon in 2015. The laser scan included more than 50 locations inside and outside the cathedral, scanning the details multiple times and collecting more than a billion data points to accurately capture the full view of Notre Dame de Paris. The Shuri Castle in South Korea, which also suffered a fire in 2019, was less fortunate in that it had no previous 3D scans available, so the reconstruction of the model could only be based on photographs collected from around the world. The building was able to be reconstructed as a relatively accurate 3D model from images even though it no longer existed on a physical level, and continues to exist as a virtual object.

For a building, a systematic photograph would allow for a more accurate three-dimensional reproduction than an archive of images taken by individual visitors during their travels. It is no longer possible to photograph and measure a building that has disappeared, so one can only hope for fragmented graphic collections and archival image archives for the general public. Numerous archives contain historic images of buildings that happened to be there at some time in the past, and even if a building has disappeared, it is still possible to reconstruct the spatial deconstruction of the building through images, if enough images are collected. An archive is like a freezer, containing images, either analog or digital. In the above description of the relationship between analog, digital, and virtual images, the analog image can be transformed into a virtual image through information translation, a process that activates countless dormant images that exist in the archive, turning them back into three-dimensional virtual objects. As in my previous experiment with images of a cement factory that no longer exists, I found a historical photographic record of the Heidelberg cement factory from the historical documents of the plant and used analog and digital images to reconstruct a virtual three-dimensional cement factory, juxtaposing the three on a single screen.

Backups of buildings are concerned with re-excavating archives as image clusters and creating new images from them, and virtual backups of buildings or other things are exactly what image research is all about across images and dimensions.

*Background-video: An ancient quarry located in the east of Berlin, used for mining construction stone and stone materials

Hidden Flow - Cement Plant

8K video, 32:9, color, no sound, 00:02:07, loop, 2020


Source of archived pictures: 

...eine Fabrik verschwindet
Die Geschichte und das Ende
der Portland-Cementfabrik Blaubeuren

[hrsg. von der Heidelberger Zement AG]
Dietmar Cramer u.a. – Heidelberg
Ulm: Süddeutsche Verlagsgesellschaft, 2001-04-19
ISBN 3-88 294-313-0

©2001 Heidelberger Zement Aktiengesellschaft,
Berliner Straße 6, 69120 Heidelberg

*Archived pictures from publications