Landscape Data, Art/Artefacts & Models as Linked Open Data Perth, Australia

For those interested in the above, please keep Friday 27 July 2018, open for an all-day free event in Perth.

We will be inviting speakers to talk on Australia-specific cultural issues and digital (geo) projects in relation to the above event.

More details to follow shortly and announced via

So there is an Australian working group for Pelagios – Linked Open Data. We will run an event on 27 July at Curtin. News to follow.

Australia LAMLOD Group: led by Erik Champion (UNESCO Chair of Cultural Visualisation and Heritage, Curtin University) and Susan Fayad (City of Ballarat), this WG seeks to address the problem of linking materials between academic research and cultural heritage in an Australian context. This is not so much about extending Pelagios linked data practice to an entirely new continent, though that is important; the problem this WG seeks to address is the multi-layered and contentious representation of cultural heritage, namely: the vast scale of Australian landscapes and historic journeys; the local and highly specific Aboriginal ways of describing, navigating and experiencing the landscapes with hundreds of different languages; and the specific problem of integrating UNESCO designated built and natural heritage with its surrounding ecosystems. The LAMLOD WG will create landscape data and visualisation displays, investigate related cultural artefact knowledge (Indigenous and colonial), and build towards the integration of linked open data and 3D models.



abstract for CDH 2018

Centre for Digital Heritage meeting 2018:
3D archives, (re)use and Knowledge production, Lund 18–20 June 2018

Our abstract:

Integrating 3d Models and GIS for Digital Cultural Heritage

Recent advances in technology have helped make the capture and modelling of 3D digital cultural objects increasingly affordable. Ever growing numbers of cultural institutions have been digitizing their digital artefacts and sites. Regards the availability of 3D geometric modelling methods and 3D file formats, there are hundreds to choose from. However, an extremely challenging task is to identify the most appropriate 3D geometric modelling method and file format for the specific purposes of digital cultural heritage. In order to overcome those challenges, this paper first summarizes the most-common 3D geometric modelling methods such as constructive solid geometry, non-uniform rational B-splines, triangle meshes, and discusses their advantages, disadvantages and their typical application in the digital cultural heritage domain. Second, various 3D file formats are systematically analysed and discussed, with particular reference to architecture, to archaeology and to heritage studies. Third, future possibilities of 3D file formats and their potential for linking with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geospatial databases are outlined. What are the successful exemplars but also major challenges for linking GIS, 3D models and heritage aims? Where do these modelling methods, formats, aims and disciplines converge or diverge? Would such combinations create major problems for archives?

Keywords: 3D geometric modelling, 3D file formats, 3D archives, digital cultural heritage

Ikrom Nishanbaev, Erik Champion, Hafizur Rahaman, Mafkereseb Bekele

Critical Archaeological Gaming Workshop UCLA

The Critical Archaeological Gaming Workshop was held 25-26 January at UCLA Los Angeles and I was lucky enough to be invited (at short notice). Luckily LA is only two flights for me, one via the ancestral homeland and it was a great opportunity to hear about archaeology games, digital heritage projects, and some criticism of digital (urban) history..


  1. Willeke Wendrich Welcome and purpose of the workshop
  2. Tara Copplestone Rethinking Archaeology Through Game Design
  3. Erik Champion The Sin of Completeness versus the Lure of Fantasy in Contested Possibility-Spaces
  4. Eddo Stern Subjectivity, creativity and polemics in historical game design

  5. Willeke Wendrich Walking through Empty Buildings, Everybody Wears the Same Shoes
  6. Rosa Tamborrino The sense of Time in Videogames: Fragments and Lack of Dynamics in Historical Environment Reconstructions
  7. Hannah Scates Kettler Jumping into the Animus: Revisiting old video games to create new ones

  8. David Fredrick Secrets in the Garden: Modeling Vulnerability and Information Exchange in the House of Octavius Quartio

To answer some people, I don’t think there will be a publication but here are links to some of the projects discussed:

In the demo session I also saw some of the things Chris Johanson (UCLA) is working on with the UCLA Romelab plus also Lynn Dodson’s VR tour of Catalina Island.. If you are near Washington DC 11-15 April 2018, Lynn is organizing a panel on Virtual Heritage Ethics at the annual meeting of SAA..(Society for American Archaeology)

Experiencing the Experience of the Past

Experiencing the Experience of the Past and

Experiencing Exhibition Portals of the Future from the Past.

[Notes on a potential future article of speculative/manifesto-oriented content, but where it fits with journals or conferences, I do not know].

Keywords: Experience, heritage, 3D models, experience of experience, Heidegger

In creating virtual heritage models and sites there is a typically recurring problem seldom discussed. In the midst of so many technical, conceptual and social problems I wish to highlight one of the most difficult, the experiencing of experiences.

Charters into digital heritage usually relate back to UNESCO’s concepts of cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible. And UNESCO’s concepts are predicated on the notion of communicating (local, past) cultural significance of the site: what was valuable and significant about it and how do we communicates its values?

Conversely, exhibition architecture celebrates the new, the inspiring, they act as gateway to a visionary future. How do we preserve communicate or re-establish their function and impact, as portals between past and future? They are generally forgotten and dismantled. But the experience of encountering them is never fully recorded, transmitted or preserved.

For Heidegger, the work of art (say, a Greek temple), does not just sit there, it provides a perceptual threshold through which the perceiver can suddenly encounter the shadow-furrowed outline of their past silhouetted against the blinding light of their future.

The power of the sudden vista is such that the very material of the temple (be it marble or some other shiny material) “causes it to come forth for the very first time” [PLT 46]. That is, on the edge of the bringing-forth of the work of art, one is carried away by the impression that the moment is unique: that the work is appearing before one in a way that will never quite be “caught” again.

Such an opening is not an object that is unrelated to the perceiver’s self-guided interests (as one might view the situation in terms of a Kantian disinterestedness), it is the revealing of those very same to all past theories of art and aesthetics. And in the very act of creating this realm, Heidegger claims that it might be significantly more tempting and worthwhile to the perceiver than even the phenomenal world that actually (tangibly) lies before them:

“Towering up within itself, the work opens up a world and keeps it abidingly in force…The world worlds, and is more fully in being than the tangible and perceptual realm in which we believe ourselves to be at home.” [PLT 44-45]

Can we recapture this? The problem, in other words, is how to communicate the experience, historically situated, in how people then experienced what was then fresh, new, revolutionary.

There are paintings, news clippings, sometimes audio interviews. But nothing together in an experiential gestalt that helps communicate what was new to them. Presence research does not help, it aims for a universal not situated measure of presence and immersivity. My concept of cultural presence also does not go very far, it may only apply to certain sites, and…

Do 3D models help? No, they are limited in terms of backstory, paradata (context), not experientially rich, lacking in interactivity and agency (not the same thing), no multimodality or gestalt framework (for reasons I will elaborate), and seldom have feedback. Here I will explain why the most basic elements of games, theme (fantasy, imagination), challenge (engaging difficulty), optional strategies that help develop intrinsic game-related growth and change…

But museums? Museums don’t have the time to enable the above! Well, they don’t have the freedom to allow users to develop the above (references to follow). Growth, deep understanding, all take time and reflection. The monumental, forgotten impact of old museums is disappearing…

There are examples in architecture (embodiment: Kathadaw Pagoda, caryatids; expression: Colosseum; innovation: Duomo of Florence, Hagia Sophia, Pantheon; sensory overload and uniqueness: Crystal Palace).

SO how can we relay and transmit the above?

  1. Biofeedback
  2. Paradata trails
  3. Backstory (incorporate witness and expert interviews)
  4. Historical mementos from different eras recapturing the apparent newness of the event
  5. Shareable experience indicators


Charitos, D. (1996). “Definining Existential Space in Virtual Environments”, Proc. Virtual Reality World 96, (Stuttgart: IDG Publications).

Heidegger, Martin, (translated by Albert Hofstadter), Poetry, Language, Thought, Harper and Row, New York 1975 [PLT]

ICOMOS, (1999).‘The Burra Charter: The Australia ICOMOS charter for the conservation of places of cultural significance’,

Nitsche, Michael. 2008, Video Game Spaces Image, Play, and Structure in 3D Game Worlds, MIT Press, USA.

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?

Updated UK/France/QATAR itinerary

Still being planned (Newcastle is still a tbc):

The 3 talks:

UCL Qatar: (tbc), 20 or 21 November 2017:

Talk, workshop and debate on Historical narratives and digital spaces (place tbc)

Salford, 29 November 2017:

Rethinking Virtual Places

This talk will cover my recent thoughts on what is a virtual place and a virtual world, and why we seem to have shifting, even varying notions of virtual reality. For example, what are virtual environments and virtual museums? Do they open our minds up to the possibility of digital space and virtual culture? In my opinion, they typically fail to do so, virtual museums lack contestation and imagined defensive capacity, they are not cultural worlds.  Many philosophers and cultural studies thinkers have given us some hints as to cultural places, but not to virtual cultural places. And architects are also not as well placed as one might think, to design, critique and review virtual places.  Nor is it clear to many how we learn through virtual placeAugmented reality will begin to dominate virtual reality, and consumer-friendly component-based VR technology has great promise, but new and emerging devices displays and peripherals may have long-term detrimental cognitive, physical and social effects.

Research Digital Cultural Heritage conference, University of Manchester, 30 November-1 December 2017:

Inside Out: Avatars, Agents, Cultural Agents

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 behavior). 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 behaviors given specific events or situations.
  2. Recognize in/correct cultural behaviors given specific events, locations, or situations.
  3. Transmit cultural knowledge.
  4. Modify, create, or command artifacts 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 behavior 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.