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Models and their features

Models (Latin: modulus: measure, scale, unit) have always been a tool used in various scientific disciplines to explain, understand, predict or simulate complex phenomena. The models used as working tools are employed for a wide variety of reasons and serve a wide variety of methods and purposes.  Herbert Stachowiak discussed the concept of models in detail in his "General Model Theory" in 1973. The model properties he formulated are still valid in science today. These are the mapping feature, the shortening feature and the pragmatic feature. The three-dimensional siblings also correspond to these purposes and characteristics.

The differentiation of the model concept into the areas of "models of" and "models for" according to Gouvea and Passmore, represents a central clarification of the equally broad and different areas of application. The objective of the model must therefore be known early on in the process. The model of describes the clear assignment of a model to a real situation or an analogous artifact. In particular, Stachowiak's mapping characteristic is reflected here: "Models are always models of something". The model for, on the other hand, focuses on the use and benefit of the model, which is made understandable and comprehensible by the model.


A difference


The implemen-tation plan

To create the 3D models, I follow the creation process I have developed for multi-layered artifacts. This makes it possible to incorporate the principles of the cognitive process in order to create a 3D model that is adequate for the history of technology. The iterative process is divided into two deconstruction phases, two reduction phases and the aggregation phase. The human interpretation of sources and data is essential throughout the entire process.

The 3D modeling of a multi-layered artefact requires information on its internal structure as well as its external appearance. For the external appearance, a digitized image is created using photogrammetry. This allows the actual surface texture to be transferred in a high-poly to low-poly process. The information on the internal structure is obtained from technical drawings or dimensional data.


Inside and outside


Deconstruction phase   I

In the first phase, the overall system is considered. The technical artifact can be a combination of different subsystems. The subsystems are extracted in order to obtain an overview of the complexity as well as coupling effects and dependencies.

Reduction phase   I

In the second phase, the first conscious reduction of reality takes place. Based on the defined objective, subsystems that are not necessary for achieving the objective can be shortened. The reduction enables an initial simplification.

Deconstruction phase   II

In the third phase, the remaining subsystems are further broken down into meaningful, comprehensible individual components that are important for the technical-historical knowledge process with the help of the technical documentation. In order to be able to create a multi-layered 3D model, its structure must be reconstructed. The overarching question here is: Which components exist at all?

Reduction phase   II

In this phase, the second reduction takes place in order to create a comprehensible and adequate 3D model for use in the history of technology. The inclusion of theoretical principles is essential in order not to lose properties of the artifact that are necessary for the research process through the model-specific reduction. It should be noted that a model is always developed for specific purposes. It can and should never take all properties into account, but it can be supplemented with properties that can only be achieved through digitality.

Reduction phase

In the optional reduction phase, the complexity of individual components can be reduced. There can be various reasons for this, such as the appropriateness of the implementation.

Aggregation phase

The final phase involves assembling the entire 3D model with all its individual components and subsystems. The 3D model now reflects the set goal and is ready for use in VR.


"3D artefact creation is much more than just 3D acquisition. In many cases, in particular when high-quality results are requested, the human is also in the loop."

Bruno, Fabio & Bruno, Stefano & De Sensi, Giovanna & Luchi, Maria-Laura & Mancuso, Stefania & Muzzupappa, Maurizio: From 3D reconstruction to virtual reality: A complete methodology for digital archaeological exhibition. In: Journal of Cultural Heritage, Vol. 11, 2010, p. 42–49

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