Cybermaps in 3D heritage

A journal asked that I respond to a paper that briefly mentions the above. Notes to self include these general questions that I seldom find answers to in virtual heritage papers and not mentioned in my response (the journal has a strict word limit):

  1. Interpretation: It is very hard to extrapolate from VH papers how various interpretations are fostered.
  2. Beginnings: Where do you place a visitor in a virtual site?
  3. Dynamic alterity: How should or could they navigate time, space and interpretation?
  4. Art Versus Scientific Imagination: How should they separate artistic from current reality from interpreted virtuality? What if the artistry is impressive but speculative?
  5. Projects: Where can the projects (that apparently relate to the questions posed in the text), be experienced or otherwise accessed? How will they be preserved?
  6. Interactive Navigation: How do we navigate time, space, interpretation, and task/goal?
  7.  Authenticity, accuracy and artistry: How does one balance all three?

Thank you for sharing

Though I have been critical of I can also see good, and I greatly appreciate the feature where people can comment on why they want to download an author’s paper.

When an author is writing for different audiences or for a new one, comments explaining where and why a publication has been helpful is encouraging and useful feedback. For new academics, these comments can be used for promotion and so on, but even us older academics can appreciate a few words of feedback and even constructive criticism!

Choosing Conference Hosts

Did you ever have to choose between prospective conference hosts? I don’t remember ever seeing criteria for choosing potential conference hosts but a few times I have been asked to choose or rank applications and from memory I try to mark them against criteria like the one below. Happy change or replace this if someone has a better system well laid out somewhere. Oh and I have not weighted the criteria against each other but that could be done with some contextual information.

  1. Venue capacity and character (size of plenary room, facilities, exhibition capacity, access to transport)
  2. Organizational competence
  3. Local heritage, tours and ambience
  4. Daily costs and access to venue, city and country (for majority of attendees)
  5. Western/non-western/ethnic balance
  6. Links to related institutes/institutional support
  7. Ability to bring in students, communities, related events and organizations
  8. Local expertise in heritage
  9. Ability to bring in keynote speakers and sponsors

Conference paper: Inside Out: Avatars, Agents, Cultural Agents

Paper accepted for Researching Digital Cultural Heritage – International Conference, Manchester UK, Dates: 30/11-1/12/2017 twitter #digheritage17

Keywords:Digitally enabled collaborative, participatory and reflexive approaches in cultural heritage design, research and practice.

If conveying cultural significance is a central aim of virtual heritage projects, can they convey cultural significance effectively without an understanding of the contextual role of cultural knowledge? In this talk I will argue this is very difficult, but even populating virtual environments with others (human-guided or computer-scripted), there are still vital, missing ingredients.

In virtual heritage projects with enough computational power and sophistication to feature intelligent agents, they are primarily used as guides (Bogdanovych et al. 2009). They lead players to important landmarks, or perhaps act as historical guides (revealing past events, conveying situationally appropriate behaviour). Intelligent agents are usually designed for limited forms of conversation and typically help convey social presence rather than cultural presence. For an enhanced “sense of inhabited place”, engaging narrative- related elements, or embodiment, a cultural agent recognizes, adds to, or transmits physically embedded and embodied aspects of culture. They could provide a sense of cultural presence, becoming Aware-Of-Not-Quite-Being-‘There’.

Cultural agents would not be mere conversational agents if they were able to:

  1. Automatically select correct cultural behaviours given specific events or situations.
  2. Recognize in/correct cultural behaviours given specific events, locations, or situations.
  3. Transmit cultural knowledge.
  4. Modify, create, or command artefacts that become cultural knowledge.

To fulfil the above criteria, cultural agents would be culturally constrained. Not just socially constrained; their actions and beliefs would be dependent on role, space, and time. They could understand and point out right from wrong in terms of culturally specific behaviour and understand the history and possibly also the future trajectory of specific cultural movements. In this talk I will discuss three scenarios for cultural agents, their relationship to roles and rituals, and two more missing ingredients. The result? A more situated, reflexive appreciation of cultural significance via virtual heritage.

Rough Outline on Architected Place

I am finishing a chapter (Chapter 3: ‘Architected’ Places) for my own book on Virtual Places, but the structural arc has escaped me until now. It will be polemical and controversial so I need to rewrite it to show that I realize this, there will be gaps and generalizations.

The basic premises are:

  1. Architectural theory is essentialist.
  2. Architectural tools are instrumentalist, architects don’t work on or near the site, as they need specialist tools connected to databases not to experiences.
  3. Architectural media is loath to include people and architectural spaces don’t work as places without people (Marseilles, by Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion, architectural masterpieces tend to be pavilions).
  4. Architects are not trained in user experience design and evaluation.
  5. Nor are architects trained in interactive media, their tools (see argument 2) are instrumentalist and passive.
  6. Traditional architectural craft is embodied, sited, takes time and records care. This is less and less the case.
  7. So applying theories of architecture, or practices of architectural design to interactive digital media in order to create virtual places, may well leave some gaps. How to resolve these in the design of virtual places? Corruption? Fancy theory? Post modernism? No, through embodiment, multimodality, role-play (and thematic affordances), allowing user-infill, environmental change to affect the design environment, and digital personalized patinas, materials that show the effect of time, wear and care.


3D Digital Heritage, Berlin program

I am speaking at 3D Heritage Exploring Virtual Research Space for Art, 19 -20 June 2017, Berlin. Program here

Address:Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Humboldt Graduate School,Luisenstr 56, 10117, Berlin

A Scholarly Ecosystem for 3D Digital Heritage Simulations
Erik Champion

Major impediments to the development of high quality and effective virtual heritage projects has been technological constraints or insufficient audience evaluation methods. That said, this talk proposes that a more fundamental issue has been with the design, circulation and use of the digital models themselves as components of scholarly arguments or as vehicles to communicate hypotheses to the wider public.

In Australia, we have proposed to UNESCO that we run a project to survey, collate and develop tools for heritage sites and related built environments, focusing initially on Australia. The aim is to consolidate and disseminate 3D models and virtual environments of world heritage sites, host virtual heritage examples, tutorials, tools and technologies so heritage groups and classrooms could learn to develop and maintain 3D models and virtual environments, and act as advisor on policy formulation for the use, evaluation and application of these 3D digital environments and digital models for use in the classroom and for general visualisation projects.

The resulting UNESCO Chair project will implement and advise on 3D models of World Heritage Sites, how 3D models can be employed in teaching and research, investigate ways to host both the digital models and related paradata and publications, and transfer formats (for desktop use, mobile computing etc.), ideally with UNESCO, and we will leverage research facilities at Curtin and at partner institutes and research facilities like the HIVE (Figure 1).

The primary goal is to help educate the public in the area of world heritage sites via interactive collaborative digital media, with an emphasis on free and open source software, and a secondary goal is to examine virtual heritage and related digital simulations as components of scholarly arguments. The UNESCO Chair’s project team will also critique, integrate and extend existing and new infrastructure to support this learning material and the overall integration of scholarly publications, publicly available media and online directories and repositories of digital 3D simulations of world heritage sites and related artefacts as a scholarly ecosystem.