The Future of the Virtual Past 2017

Prospects for the 3D Visualization of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology

23 February 2017, 2-6pm
Faculty of Architecture and History of Art, University of Cambridge

I have been invited to this interdisciplinary workshop, which marks ten years since the publication of the London Charter for the Computer Based Visualization of Cultural Heritage, the most significant attempt to establish internationally-recognised principles for the use of digital visualisation by researchers, educators and cultural heritage organisations. A decade on – with the arrival of virtual reality platforms, easy to use photogrammetric software and ever-more sophisticated scanning hardware – the possibilities for representing the past through 3D Visualisation have increased exponentially. However, progress in the 3D Visualization of cultural heritage has not been commensurate with advances in digital technology. Few 3D Visualizations measure up to the Charter’s guidelines, especially in terms of articulating their underpinning metadata in transparent fashion. Digital past environments generally remain confined to the realm of dissemination and are perceived to lack the credibility of conventional scholarly outputs.

The questions posed by the London Charter remain compelling challenges for practice today. Can digital heritage visualisation convey the intellectual rigour and transparency at the heart of art historical interpretation? How can digital environments visualise degrees of uncertainty reflecting a variety of hypotheses, invariably present in art historical research of this nature?

This workshop brings together two of the original London Charter team, humanities researchers with experience of digital projects, computer scientists and specialists in photogrammetry and digital scanning to explore how future work in the field might gain greater academic acceptance not only for representing research findings but also to generate fresh data and research questions.