Diorama of a Car Dumped on Mt. Ainslie

3D printed Diorama + Photo Collage, 12 x 12 x 3 cm

Opening at Belconnen Arts Centre in the exhibition titled Encyclopaedia of Forgotten Things from the staff and students from the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Canberra


For years I’ve been walking past a dumped car slowly rusting in the bush beside a path on Mt. Ainslie. There was a door, fuel tank, back seat, drive shaft and a tyre among other parts. I sometimes wondered how long it had been there, and why it had been dumped in this out of the way spot away from any road. Then last summer the bush around it was cleared, presumably to reduce fire hazard. This gave me the opportunity to get closer and to photograph it on my mobile phone. It also gave kids the opportunity to play with the pieces and scatter them around, and it was not long before the pile of junk began to disintegrate. This 3D printed diorama, constructed from those photos, is all that is left of that dumped car now.

3D laser scanners allow large sites to be documented with high levels of spatial accuracy. For example a laser scanner was used by researchers at UC to capture a model of the Yankee Hat Aboriginal rock art site in Namadgi National Park [1]. The CSIRO have developed a hand held laser scanner that has been used to capture cultural heritage sites [2]. Image based techniques for 3D scanning have also been developed that provide a much more accessible, albeit much lower quality, way to scan 3D objects with a camera, for example the Autodesk 123DCatch App for mobile phones has fostered a community of practice around 3D scanning [3]. In this project I am exploring whether this App may also be used to scan cultural heritage sites, in a manner similar to the high end laser systems. This experiment also explores the presentation of the site as a diorama 3D printed in coloured plastic. The results provide insights into the spatial resolution of the photo capture system, and the limits in the size and colour reproduction of the 3D printing system. The upload of the model to an online 3D printing site also provides a platform for sharing and distribution of the diorama [5].


[1] Munnerley, D. Thomas, T. Bacon, M. Fitzgerald, R, Stanley, A. (2013) Virtual Archaeology: Yankee Hat, 2113: A Canberra Odyssey, Canberra Museum and Gallery, 13 July – 3 November, 2013.

[2] Zlot, R, Bosse, M. Greenop, K. Jarzab, Z. Juckes, E. and Roberts, J. (2014) Efficiently Capturing Large, Complex Cultural Heritage Sites with a Handheld Mobile 3D Laser Mapping System, Journal of Cultural Heritage, 15(6), November/December 2014.

[3] Autodesk 123D Catch App, http://www.123dapp.com/catch, accessed 28 June 2016.

[4] Barrass, S. (2016) WreckMtAinslie, Shapeways, https://www.shapeways.com/model/upload-and-buy/4772359, accessed 28 June 2016.