St. George and the Dragon is stereoscopic reconstruction of medieval statues, exhibited as part of "the Pious and the Pagans” exhibition at Hämeenlinna Castle, Finland.



The project, a collaboration between the National Museum of Finland and MediaLab at Aalto University, is a digital re-imagining of a medieval diorama, using three ancient statues (shown below) whose original stories are unknown. The horse, knight, and princess, which are also featured in the exhibition, are historical wooden artefacts originating from Finnish medieval churches. They are remnant fragments of larger diorama displays once seen widely across Finland, of which the story of St George & The Dragon was commonly depicted.



Through research and artistic interpretation, the artists have recreated the historical aesthetic of the statues and recomposed a new scene inspired by other similar statues.

The statues were first digitized using photogrammetry - the reconstruction was then finished by a process of digital conservation: using 3D software to artistically sculpt the statues, in order to regain a complete realization.


To inform this process, the artists mimicked the process of fixing the statues, basing style and form on other contemporaneous objects, to determine their stance and expression. Hints to the likely coloring came from paint fragments on the originals, and from other similar wooden statues from the same period.



The installation provides four stereoscopic viewpoints, each showing a different stage of the reconstruction to make the sculptures like new.


Each view is synchronised to the central rotating 3D printed models and table that indicate the starting point for the scene reconstruction. When observing through a stereoscope, it creates an illusion that the digital reconstruction has presence within the exhibition space. The installation thus seeks to illuminate the stories of these remarkable sculptures, using new technologies, historical research, and some artistic interpretation.



Publication

In addition to the exhibition, a written article on the project was included in the new publication "Pyhät ja pakanat - Ihmisyyden kuvia" from the National Museum of Finland (Sanna Teittinen, Editor). Further information on the book can be found here.


Fabrication


The fabrication of the installation included building custom media technology to synchronise the viewers and the rotating table, as well as also over 250 hours of 3D printing at Aalto Fablab to faithfully reproduce copies of the original statues. A gallery documenting the fabrication process will be available shortly.


Credits


Professor Lily Diaz, Project Supervisor (MediaLab Aalto)

Mercedes Said, Design & Production (MediaLab Aalto)

Topias Airas, 3D Modelling (Metropolia)

Janne Ojala, Engineering (MediaLab Aalto)

James Geraets, Engineering (University of Helsinki)

With assistance from Kai Lappalainen (MediaLab Aalto), Solomon Embafrash (Aalto Fablab), Topi Falkenberg, Jari Simanainen and Pauli Åberg (Rakkenuspaja Aalto)for their support. Many thanks to Professor Philip Dean (MediaLab Aalto), Sanna Teittinen, Lea Vartinen and Jouni Kuurne of Kansallismuseo.