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Jessica Pissini: 3D Modeling & AR in Museum Education

July 1, 2015

The Wired! Lab’s Master’s program in Historical & Cultural Visualization was begun this past August. We are excited to have three students participating.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My background and undergraduate degrees from Pennsylvania State University are within visual art (sculpture/photography) and in ancient history/archaeology. I was lucky enough to be part of an excavation team in Egypt for 3 summers, 2 of which I was a graduate assistant in charge of the lab and site photography. I lived in Los Angeles for 4 years after school and had a great job in a film/tv fabrication studio where I worked on movies like the Avengers and Hunger Games, and tons more. I truly loved the creative side of that job but the entertainment industry is brutal. Plus I missed fieldwork and classes, so I started to look into graduate school.

Why did you choose to attend the MA in Historical and Cultural Visualization program?

I wanted a program that crossed both of my interests, and the HCVIS seemed to be the best fit. Plus I was not going to pass up the opportunity to go to Duke. The MA program gives me a chance to learn and study art and artifacts that I enjoy and also engages my creative side with the visualization projects.

What is the most valuable skill or concept you have learned so far in the MA program?

I came into the program wanting to 3D model everything I could get my hands on. While I have certainly learned a ton of great modeling skills, I think the most important concept I have learned is how to approach such projects and document everything along the way. There is so much more that goes into a historical/cultural visualization project than just the final model or image. I’ve quickly learned that such projects require much more effort in the research and planning stages than sometimes goes into the actual modeling itself. All of those elements are necessary though to have a successful project.

How do you see this MA advancing your career goals?

I would love to work with art and artifacts perhaps within a museum type of career. With all of the classes and all of the projects I have been a part of these last 2 semesters, I have worked directly with museum exhibitions and public outreach projects. That is hands on experience in a field I want to pursue. Plus, working with professors and curators within the Nasher, I’ve seen a kind of “behind the scenes” type of approach to museum exhibits, and all of the work that goes into the planning.

Jessica works on the lab project The Lives of Things, was an instrumental part of Simon Verity’s January 2015 residency, and recently completed this in-class group project. She is currently working to complete her MA thesis, which focuses on creating interactive digital resources for museum education.

UPDATE: Jessica is continuing her studies in museum education at the PhD level.