Adventures in embodiment: panoramic, panoptic & hemispheric immersion

Sarah Kenderdine, Australia/Hong Kong , Anita Kocsis, Australia

Digital immersion is the next frontier for museum experience design. Recognizing that museum technologists today need to be equipped with an understanding of the value and use of immersive technologies in cultural heritage, Museums and the Web invited Dr Sarah Kenderdine to open MW2012 with a keynote presentation on her cutting-edge work in this field. For MW2013, Sarah offers a follow up workshop that enables attendees to take a “deep dive” into this transformative new area of museum practice.

Digital caves, panoramas, and other interactive, immersive digital environments offer new kinds of museum experiences and new ways to engage with cultural heritage. For remote or fragile sites and artifacts, digital platforms may offer the only safe and sustainable way to make art, history and intangible culture accessible to global audiences. Immersive environments can take those encounters beyond the informational to convey the power and emotion of the real world encounter. Surround screens and interactive panoramas also offer new, more user-friendly interfaces to the enormous datasets that are being digitized and created by collaborations among cultural institutions around the world. These immersive digital environments often allow visitors to enter digital facsimiles of cultural heritage places and experience them at one-to-one-scale. The ability to participate in digital reconstructions in a fully embodied way has a significant impact on the visitor’s cognition and also offers an important alternative for giving access to real sites under threat from tourism, conflict and climate change.

Using a wide variety of content from both intangible and tangible heritage contexts, this workshop invites attendees to explore interactive applications inside a series of large-scale immersive visualization systems and to evaluate their use inside a museum setting:

  • interactive 3D panoramic 360-degree displays (PLACE; AVIE)
  • hemispherical domes (Media Dome and iDome)
  • 3D panoptic hexagonal viewing systems (Re-Actor, The Virtual Room)
  • augmented reality
  • and other large screen formats (4k etc)

These platforms offer new paradigms for creating access to cultural heritage archives as embodied museum experiences. Attendees will learn how to work with scientific, natural history and cultural collections, archaeological documentation, panoramic photographic, video and ambisonic recordings, and web-based archives to create transformative museum experiences – both within and beyond the gallery’s walls. Participants will leave with an in-depth understanding of future trends and practices for the immersive experience, and what they mean for the participants’ own institutions and work.

New evaluation methods designed to focus on the core aspects of immersive experiences will be introduced through the collaborative work done together with Dr Anita Kocsis. I Sho U is a tablet based interface design to aggregate bodily, emotion and social feedback, thus mapping the space for curatorial decision making and content development.

Key works described in this talk include: Pure Land: Inside the Mogao Grottoes at DunhuangPure Land Augmented Reality EditionPLACE-Hampi and the new museum at Karnataka, India; ECloud for Europeana based on World War One archive; YER-Turkiye a record of tangible and intangible heritage in across Turkey and Inhabiting the South China Sea Pirate Scroll projects recently completed for the Maritime Museum of Hong Kong. Further information for each can be found on the website of the Applied Laboratory for Interactive Visualization and Embodiment located at the Hong Kong Science Technology Park.