Digital museology and heritage communication
About the session:
How does digitisation and advances in virtual reality and new media affect the circulation of heritage, and what challenges and opportunities arise alongside the new ways of communicating the past in the present?
Session organiser: Åmund Norum Resløkken (HEI/UiO)
Politecnico di Torino, Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning
1. Insights in intangible heritage through GLAM collections exploitation. Critical notes on creating narratives with/on digital heritage
Digital technologies allow different kind of visualizations and experiences of the past. Tangible heritage can be especially spatialized and visualized in a digital environment, and strict methodologies have been developed in order to use technologies properly for creating accurate reconstructions. This process creates a digital heritage which necessitates accuracy but also a critical approach. Furthermore, the same process still remains complex for intangible heritage. On the other hand, the digitization of last years has generated huge digital assets in cultural institutions that should be better exploited for developing new cultural heritage knowledge. Beyond their collections, Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums that have constituted a prominent digital cultural heritage (GLAM) have cross issues with new digital collection to be communicated and shared.
By considering needs and opportunities, we’ve experienced GLAM collections for shaping large scale historical reconstructions in a digital history module on 19th century Paris use case. We’ve created narratives on dynamic of changes in urban regions around monuments such as Louvre, Hotel de Ville or les Halles which allow improving understanding of the past also enhancing communication of intangible heritage. The outputs allow reflecting about how we can combine tangible and intangible cultural heritage in a digital environment exploiting GLAM collections through a critical approach to digital devices.
Beyond the approach able to properly process information, extracting data and accurately linking 3D models to data sources, this paper aims to discuss how the narratives presenting the reconstructions in a coherent spatial and cultural context can be quite different according
to digital devices’ critically uses. Are the models a final outcome in itself? How to combine their hyper-realistic visual narratives with historical aesthetic visions? Or we need to create narratives by inverting the process and using rather models to communicate GLAM heritage?
Claire currently teaches in the Digital Humanities department at King’s College London, working on digital cultural heritage, visual methods, mapping and contemporary art.
2. Communicating penal heritage through digital photography and collage – ‘Postcards from the bagne’
As part of the AHRC-funded research project ‘Postcards from the bagne’ led by Dr Sophie Fuggle, I have photographed multiple sites of the former French penal colonies in both French Guiana and New Caledonia. I have been creating digital collages using these photographs as well as maps, ephemera (especially postcards) and plants collected and pressed at research locations, aiming to re-depict the sites of the bagne [penal colony], with a view to proposing ways to imagine prisons as a social form that could be subjected to ruination. Ruins have a long history in
Western visual culture and art history, and one of the recurring possibilities they are seen as enacting is the opportunity to imagine ourselves and our societies in their own state of ruination. Brian Dillon has proposed that in its ‘fragmentary’ nature the ruin harbours a ‘radical potential’.
I argue that collage is able to embody something of the ruin’s ‘radical potential’ to imagine things being otherwise, and as such is an interesting method to use in trying to tell new stories about how we can interpret cultural heritage sites, especially those linked with trauma. In the context of penal heritage, I propose that digital collage can help us to open out the horizons of our collective political and social imaginary. In this presentation I will share my digital collages and place them in context with the digital photographic archive I created at penal colony sites in 2018. Digital photographs and collages from the ‘Postcards from the bagne’ research project are due to be published in 2020.
Dillon, B. ed. (2012) ‘Introduction’ in Ruins: Documents of Contemporary Art, MIT Press, Cambridge
Anne-Cathrine is an Architect and REsearcher, and has been at NIKU since 2000, except from the period 2002-2007, when she worked with the Governor of Svalbard.
Erich is an Archeologist and a Researcher, and has been employed at NIKU since 2015. He works mainly with geophysical investigations in archeology.
Edvard joined NIKU in 2019 and has studied technical building protection and restoration, history and art history.
3. Digital heritage: transformation the mining-community of Svea from physical heritage to digital heritage
Since the Norwegians took over sovereignty on Svalbard in 1925, asserting sovereignty over the archi-pelago has been one of the foremost goals for Norwegian Svalbard policy. When Norway bought the coalmine Sveagruva from the Swedes in 1934, the Norwegian mining-activity in Svea became part of the sovereignty claim. In recent times and until the closure in 2016, the activity in Svea has been the most important pillar in Norway’s presence on Svalbard. In this context, and as a physical mani-festation of political history, Sveagruva has a high conservation value. However, the Svalbard Environmental Protection Act requires that all surface installations, all waste and other remains that are not protected structures shall be removed when an activity is closed down. The site shall as far as possible be restored to its original condition. The owners, Store Norske Spitbergen Kullkompani, is proud of their history in Svea, and priortootransforming Sveagruva was into nature, they wanted a digital “copy” to be created so that Sveagruva could at least be preserved, and later experienced, in digital form.
The collected data from Svea are currently under processing. The immedeate results will be high-resolution colored pointclouds of each single builing and industrial facility as well as the surrounding landscape. The creation of an immersive virtual environment where any user can freely move through the entire mining settlement is the key point for the further work. The single 3D models represent just a surface geometry of the site. Expanding the 3D models with historical information in form of text, images and videos will provide a more holistic experience.
But is it at all possible to transform the history into a digital format? And how will the digitlalisation affect the story of Sveagruva? Based on knowledge from working with the cultural environment in Sveagruva this paper discusses some of the overarching issues and dilemmas of digital preservation:
- how will the digital universe be able to preserve and communicate the cultural values of a historic site, in this case Sveagruva
- how can digital data and media contribute in defining new and extended possibilities and functions for the use, preservation and experience of cultural heritage, in this case Sveagruva
- how is the communication of Sveagruva affected by “the digital”? And how does the notion of Sveagruva affect the digital?
Addressing these dilemmas and trying to answer the questions will help us in our efforts preserving the cultural environment in Svea in digital form. The discussion/presentation will be accompanied by pictures and videos / 3D images from this summer’s work on obtaining digital documentation in Svea.
Åmund Norum Resløkken
Åmund is a cultural historian and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oslo, engaged in the Heritage experience initiative’s (HEI) group for Digital Cultural Heritage.
4. Virtual realities and stories of place.
Digital installations in and around museums and heritage sites have proliferated in recent years. These installations represent new, and increasing, possibilities for providing a reading of the place and/or artifacts to visitors and the public. In this way, digital heritage installations provides a framing that more than presenting objects from the past, facilitates a relation between the visitor and the artifact or place in question. Several scholars have pointed out that new technologies of visualization, like VR and AR, provides other ways of relating to places and artifacts than text and traditional imagery can provide.
In this sense, I find it interesting that the making of “digital heritage” also is the making of new ways of relating to the past, relations simultaneously drawing on cultural conventions of the future oriented notion of technology and the past oriented notion of heritage.
In this talk, I want to present some preliminary findings from my study of the use of digital technology in the exhibitions of Midgard Vikingsenter, located in the vicinity of the Borre mounds in Horten. I want to focus on in which way they use digital installations as a way to engage visitors in the story of the site and more generally a story of “the Viking age”. With this case as a background, I want to address how digital heritage are situated in the present day heritage discourse as tools for disseminating historical knowledge to the public, and how these tools also inserts a cultural idea of history, heritage and technology in the relation between viewer and place.