Monash University

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Visualising Angkor : new perspectives in virtual history.

posted on 2017-03-22, 01:34 authored by Chandler, Thomas Theodore
Much of the shape and structure of our modern world, from airports to mobile phones, begins as design prototypes in a virtual 3D (three dimensional) space before being manufactured into reality. This thesis examines how the 3D modelling process might cast backwards to prototype what we know of the past. In contrast to the mystique of a dead city that has guided the visual conception of Angkor for more than a century, this study seeks to reframe the virtual image of Angkor as a living one. The key visualisation technology engaged in this endeavour is 3D animation, which at once encapsulates motion, three spatial dimensions, and sequential time. In addition to drawing upon the established traditions of cartography, site surveys and historical and archaeological illustration, this thesis will overview the translation of a diverse range of sources into the 3D medium to visualise a virtual Angkor at three spatial scales; landscapes, sites and eye witness views. First, aggregates of 3D models will be organised into settlement features and patterned over archaeological landscapes derived from the Greater Angkor Project map. Second, the enclosure of Angkor Wat, the centre of Angkor Thom and the peripheral settlement of He Phka are modelled with a view to visualising the intersections between location, context and the extended site. Third, we will examine the complicated modelling procedures unique to spatial scale populated by reconstructed, and animated, human figures and animals. The three scales of landscapes, sites and eye witness views are next revisited in sustained animation studies. Here we can move to reconsider the entire assemblage of models created so far as a cohesive whole. In this 'cumulative model' of a virtual Angkor, the whole is demonstrated to be greater than the sum of its parts. After a discussion of theimplications of what standards and protocols might be ventured for similar studies, this thesis concludes with suggestions for future research directions in a virtual Angkor. Recently the UK Committee for Computing Research has added "Bringing the Past to Life for the Citizen" as a grand challenge. In seeking to reappraise the 3D model as an evolving, investigative tool rather than a definitive and peremptory vision, it will be demonstrated that vast potentials exist in the application of 3D modelling and animation technologies for the interpretation of the past.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

David Green

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Information Technology


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Information Technology

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