Ashley Jerbic presenting Mission San Gabriel virtual model

How is the production of art affected by the environment in which it is meant to be presented? DH Intern Ashley Jerbic, a double-major in Art Practice and History of Art, has spent her undergraduate career exploring 3D modeling as a way to approach this question. Through classes and internships with faculty DH Fellows, Jerbic has applied 3D modeling to a variety of disciplines.

Jerbic’s interest in 3D modeling began with a seminar with Justin Underhill (then a PhD student in History of Art at Berkeley; currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Digital Humanities at the University of Southern California). In the class, students learned how to create 3D models of objects and structures in SketchUp, a piece of free 3D modeling software. Students’ final projects involved using floor plans and site photographs to reconstruct various California missions. Using 3ds Max, students learned how to simulate different seasonal lighting patterns moving across the models.

For her senior thesis, Jerbic used this set of tools to study illuminated paintings of the saints and the stations of the cross at Mission San Gabriel. With a grant from the History of Art department, she was able to travel to Mission San Gabriel, take precise measurements of the space, and photograph paintings. Jerbic placed the paintings in her 3D model and studied light patterns during the summer solstice and spring equinox in particular. Jerbic suggested that the shifting illumination of painting elements reveals a narrative, both within and between paintings, that would have been a powerful experience for worshippers.

This summer, Jerbic worked with DH Fellow Lisa Trever, Assistant Professor in the History of Art Department, on a reconstruction of a mural at Pañamarca, Peru. While 2D site drawings offer scholars a way to study iconography, this is only one aspect of the murals. For Trever, viewing these murals as 3D objects that wrap around textured building walls is an important prerequisite for analyzing them in context. Utilizing Photoshop, Jerbic worked on overlaying 20th century site drawings onto photographs of the now deteriorated excavation site. Creating this overlay and adapting it to photographs of the murals was a key step for preparing a 3D model of the excavation site. Working with Isabella Warren, at M.Arch student at the College of Environmental Design, the team used Photoscan to create photogrammetric models of one mural and the larger Pañamarca site. Read more on Trever, Warren, and Jerbic’s work.

This semester, Jerbic has been working with DH Fellow Rita Lucarelli, Assistant Professor in Near Eastern Studies, on 3D models of Egyptian coffins. Lucarelli, who studies the materiality of religion, is interested in how the Egyptian Book of the Dead and its various spells are adapted to funerary objects. Jerbic has spent the semester working with with collections staff at the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum to collect 2000 photographs of The Doctor (a massive coffin weighing three tons) from various angles. Using photogrammetric methods, Jerbic will stitch these 2000 photos together into a 3D model using Agisoft PhotoScan. Ultimately, Lucarelli hopes to publish a 3D digital edition of these spells to share with colleagues and students. 

Jerbic’s work with these 3D tools has encouraged her to explore other methods, in addition to using 3D tools as part of her Art Practice major. This semester, she has been working with 123D Design (a free tool for creating and editing 3D models),3D printed plastic and clay objects, and molds in “Art 132: Deep Time of Ceramic Technologies”, taught by Stacy Jo Scott in the department of Art Practice. In addition to her 3D work, Jerbic has also worked on DH Fellow Elizabeth Honig’s project through the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program. This summer she also attended the Digital Humanities at Berkeley Summer Institute, where she received an intensive introduction to building databases with Drupal.

Looking back on her undergraduate career, Jerbic encourages students to take unconventional classes and explore opportunities to work as part of team. Jerbic noted that she has benefited immensely from collaborating with professors, students, and staff. “Everyone brings their own knowledge and experience,” Jerbic shared. “Working in a team gives you the opportunity to explore many ideas at once. Working alone, you can only pursue a few activities that are relevant to your research and fit your timeframe. When you work with other people, you can see more ideas realized.”

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