Credit: systems of representation
Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Helsinki
The Interactive Diorama—Rembrandt, 1632, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp is a virtual-reality simulation of the original artwork by Rembrandt realized by professor Lily Díaz-Kommonen with the Department of Media Systems of Representation research group at Aalto University.
The seven doctors present at the original sitting have been re-created as 3D avatar placeholders with gestures, motion and speech. The setting of the lesson, which reputedly took place at the Amsterdam’s Barber’s Guild meeting space at Waag Society, has been rendered at the 1691 anatomical theatre (also at Waag), through the study of eighteenth-century paintings and by using photogrammetry.
The work celebrates and deconstructs this important moment when the history of art and science converged in spectacle. The experience of the representation-based pictorial space of the canvas can be compared with the dynamic relational space created through the technologically embodied and enhanced perception characteristic of virtual reality environments.
Rembrandt’s mastery rendered a moment in space and time pregnant with narratives. As an interactive diorama, The Anatomy Lesson is an artifact of expression that gathers myriad possible discourses and stories within itself. As an expressive artifact the diorama can also conjure up multiple realities for the spectator. But what lurks behind it? In deconstructing and reinterpreting the work once again in the 21st century, art assumes the role of an interface allowing for speculative and agonistic experimentation and thinking. The established order is subverted and the visitor enters the virtual space by assuming the role of the deceased inmate.
Created in 2010 as a merger of three institutions, the Helsinki School of Economics (HSE), Helsinki Institute of Technology (HUT) and University of Art and Design Helsinki (UIAH), Aalto University is a multidisciplinary community where art, science and business come together to identify grand societal challenges and build innovative futures.
Project director, concept design and production: Lily Díaz-Kommonen
Software development and interface design: Ling Chen
3D modeling characters and space, motion capture: Shareef Askar
3D modeling, characters: Juha Koppström
3D modeling, space: Alex Nikulin
3D animation, book: Andrei Rodríguez
Visual design and production: Cvijeta Miljak
Sound design: Can Uzer, Gabriela Juganaru
Veselius book re-design and production: Angela Hernández
VR consultant: Markku Reunanen
Software consultant: Hung-Han Chen
Costume design consultant: Sofia Pantouvaki
Motion capture: Max Mäkinen, Tony Tolien, Matias Kommonen
Photogrammetry: Judith van der Elst