Church Gate as you have never seen it before

People can see one of the city centre’s streets as they never have before thanks to creatives who blended photography with technology.

De Montfort University Leicester’s ART AI team challenged people to use photogrammetry – a way of creating a 3D digital image of a place or object – in a competition to reimagine Church Gate.

Photogammetry uses images taken from two or more different vantage points and entrants were able to showcase different areas of the pedestrianised street.

You can see the winning entries here:

Judges were so impressed they chose two winners, Robert Wells and Martin Cibik, who each were given vouchers worth £500 and will see their designs shown at LCB Depot as part of this month’s Design Season.

Mr Wells said he was delighted to win. He said: “I'm a 3D art hobbyist primarily using Blender and winning this means a great deal to me and can barely believe it.  

“I'm quite interested in areas of the city that show dirt/graffiti and look 'lived in'.  That alleyway just shouted out to me as I passed. The five second video took about nine hours to render.”

Martin scanned both sides of the street using his iPhone, and then arranged it to give a “dreamy” feel to the resulting video.

Professor Tracy Harwood, of DMU’s Institute of Creative Technologies, runs the ART:AI Festival every year, which aims to show people the potential for computer-based artworks. She said she hoped the contest had inspired people to try something new.

Kerem Cetindamar, digital project manager for Leicester Museum, and Bill Halley, founder of Haley Sharpe Design, were on the judging panel.

Bill said: “Seeing photogrammetry, a new technology to me, being used in creative innovative ways to describe, interpret, and enhance the sense of place was exciting. It was good to see the winners explore what photogrammetry could do, to take the viewer into re-envisioned, immersive places.

“As a designer I can also see how we could use photogrammetry as a creative interpretive medium and I am sure artists will see the innovative potential within the technology.”

Kerem added: “Seeing the entries to the photogrammetry competition gave me a real insight into the artists touch in this field. The variety of styles in the photogrammetry competition showed that even in the use of what might be considered a ‘tool’ there is wide scope for interpretation and visual creativity. It was exciting and inspiring to be able to judge the entries and learn about the different techniques that can be used.

“The work that Tracy is doing with research and the Art AI Festival opens up a variety of technology to be used in experimental ways. I believe this is vitally important to help understand and develop the communication / interaction between humans and computers, especially nowadays with the advent of AI.”

The images collected in the competition will help put together a dataset that accurately captures the state of the Church Gate heritage area in summer 2022. This could be used in the future for helping come up with new designs for the street, recreating it virtually for games or creating 3D printed objects.

DMU, along with Leicester City Council, the University of Leicester, and Leicester Civic Society, is supporting a £1.5m programme from Historic England that will see some of the most important historic areas in Granby Street and Church Gate repaired, restored and re-imagined.   

As part of that work, DMU has opened Beta X, a new creative community space that brings together artists, makers, designers, researchers, thinkers and innovators. It has hosted events, exhibitions and workshops.



Posted on: Monday 24 October 2022

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