Overcoming the curse of precision: exploring the ambiguous nature of visual perception using 3D animation software

Moore, G 2008, Overcoming the curse of precision: exploring the ambiguous nature of visual perception using 3D animation software, Masters by Research, Creative Media, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Overcoming the curse of precision: exploring the ambiguous nature of visual perception using 3D animation software
Author(s) Moore, G
Year 2008
Abstract 3D animation software is extensively used to create graphics for special effects sequences in live-action films, in animated feature film production and for the generation of computer games and virtual reality content. It is a commonly held view within the computer graphics community that 3D animation software is “just another tool” for self-expression. This research questions that view by examining the inherent nature of the tool itself. In doing so, some of the philosophical assumptions embedded in the design of the new digital tool are revealed. 3D software assumes that vision is a mechanical process independent of any context, and thus reduces the world to mathematical principles. This research posits that no tool is neutral; all tools orient our behavior and contribute to the way we perceive the world.

The researcher has been trained in the use of traditional artistic methods, and like a growing number of other visual artists in recent years, has incorporated computer graphics into her artistic practice. This exegesis reflects upon the various ways an artist may ‘see’ and interpret a visual representation of the world and how traditional painting and drawing practice can inform the creation and manipulation of geometry in 3D animation software, and suggest what other variables and settings might be appropriate to arrive at a result that is different from the ‘photorealistic’. The project work outcomes embedded in this investigation explore how a tool of such mathematical precision can be deliberately used to create work that communicates the subjective and ambiguous nature of everyday visual experience.

The researcher’s previous experience as an observational drawer and painter is compared throughout this investigation with her more recent experience as a 3D animator. The research concludes that 3D is a powerful tool for creating animated graphics and, when used in conjunction with traditional drawing and painting techniques, can successfully be used to illustrate aspects of subjective visual perception. However, without reference to paintings and observational sketches, the 3D user is likely to approach the visual world in terms of the software’s inherent Cartesian assumptions. 3D software, therefore, is too prescriptive to be used in isolation as a tool for the exploration of subjective perception. This finding has implications for the changing nature of visual arts practice and deserves further examination in order to encourage a more fruitful dialogue between traditional art practice and digital graphics software.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Creative Media
Keyword(s) 3D animation
3D software
non-photorealistic computer graphics
non-photorealistic rendering
visual perception
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Created: Thu, 23 Dec 2010, 11:16:30 EST by Guy Aron
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