Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Same River Twice

After last spring’s resounding (in my mind) success of my model of the Pantheon, I immediately set out to craft a model of the Hagia Sophia. I made a lot of progress, but didn’t quite finish the interior. Or the exterior. The grand dome remains hovering suspended in midair, surrounded by virtual scaffolding.

Then we moved to a new apartment, went away for the whole summer, and I started a new job. SketchUp also didn’t seem to work with the new Mac operating system, and it kept freezing up. So with one thing and another, I haven’t really done anything in SketchUp for months.

One of my favorite places on Earth is the old part of the town of Freising near Munich, and not just because they claim to have the world’s oldest brewery. I took an entire course in Romanesque sculpture in college and remain fascinated by it, and the Bestiensaeule in Freising’s crypt was something I tried to go and see whenever I could when we lived in Munich. Well, I initially went just to see the crypt, but I started to like the whole cathedral complex, even though the main church had been renovated in hideous pink baroque. I’m not religious but have great respect for and curiosity about holy sites, and going to Freising, like walking up from Herrsching to Andechs, was one of my very favorite weekend pilgrimages. I feel lucky that I got to go there as many times as I did.

Last summer I had the chance to make a commemorative day trip to Freising, where I took over 100 photos of the area to use as reference material specifically for SketchUp. As this expedition’s protraction nearly caused my wife to miss lunch, it was a venture which was not without danger to life and limb. Well, today I finally got to use some of those reference photos. I spent the entire day working on a new model of the cathedral and adjacent buildings. The real thing looks like this from the front.

My model (which is still in the early stages, but which looks pretty respectable for one day’s work) looks like this. So far so good. I feel a bit better having started it. I hope to do the place justice. Since the outside is all cool white plaster, I think capturing it will be the easy part. The crypt, with its couple of dozen differently-sized pillars, will be another story.

However, my favorite photo from that day in Freising isn’t of the cathedral at all. It’s this picture of some kind of plants under the surface of a stream. The clear Alpine water and the sunlight from directly above made it look like the plants were glowing. It was very peaceful to watch them sway in the current.

No comments: