Art from Technology: 3D Scanner Makes Gorgeous Images

A 3D scanning device inadvertently helped two historians create beautiful and haunting works of art. Lidar technology uses pulses of laser light to map the contours of 3D surfaces and structures. Check out these images, courtesy of Charles Matz and Jonathan Michael Dillon, of people and places in Ethiopia, captured with lidar devices. [Read full story about lidar technology]

Shelter — Outside Assum Bari

People sitting under a makeshift shelter in Ethiopia, imaged using lidar. Two or more 9-second scans are used to create a single lidar image. The delayed capture time causes moving objects, like people, to appear blurred.

Gatehouse and New Road Section

The city of Harar, Ethiopia, is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site and is considered the fourth holiest city of the Muslim religion, after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. Many of its historic structures are crumbling.

The Gatehouse and New Road with Traffic

Charles Matz and Jonathan Michael Dillon went to Harar to image the city's historic structures. The team inadvertently created haunting works of art when they captured lidar images of members of the city's population as well.

Three Generations

A lidar image from a market in Harar, Ethiopia, captured a mother, her daughter, and her granddaughter together. While structures are imaged in fine detail, moving objects (like people) are often blurred.

Witness A

An image of an orphaned boy in Ethiopia, taken using lidar scanning technology. The boy remained still for most of the scan time, but the cleft on his left side was caused by movement during the scan.

Witness B

An orphaned boy in Ethiopia, imaged using lidar laser scanning technology.

Witness C

Another lidar image of the orphaned boy in Ethiopia.

Gatehouse and gatekeeper A

Lidar technology is being used to create detailed images of historic structures in the holy city of Harar, Ethiopia. 

Gatehouse and gatekeeper B

The lidar images captured by Matz and Dillon have been turned into stunning works of art.

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Staff Writer