AbstractA team of an Italian research institute develops informative systems for the field of cultural heritage, which combines 3D and interactive virtual environments. Through multi-user virtual reality applications, off and on line, these systems are the best solution to contextualize spatial data, to visualize, simulate relationships among different contents in the study and the communication of cultural heritage. The institute is looking for technical collaboration and financial resources.
DetailsVirtual heritage defines all the digital processes with a multidisciplinary approach to the interpretation, knowledge and communication of cultural heritage. The interpretation and communication process is created by spatial-temporal coordinates but it depends on the sense of place transmitted through cross-cultural domains. This gap of distance in time, space and place between present and past can be partially filled by a virtual reality environment, where the simulation is able to reproduce a holistic context of the cybernetic information. In network and collaborative environments cyberspaces and information are shared and the experience, subjective and objective, is embodied by avatars, actions, interactions, behaviors, navigations, feelings, storytelling. This embodiment constitutes a new way of learning, communication and cultural transmission; in cybernetic terms it is a “mirror effect”, we can display our action and mind in someone’s embodiment. Actually it is possible to find virtual communities developed entirely inside three-dimensional environments, where the users (represented by avatars) can directly contribute to modify the aspect of the virtual world and the social relationships between people. In very few cases virtual reality applications in the field of cultural heritage are oriented to scientific fruition. The project, “Integrated Technologies of robotics and virtual environment in archaeology”, financed by the Italian Ministry of the University and Scientific Research, gives us the occasion to experiment a multi-user domain in the web destined to the scientific community: archaeologists, experts in human and social sciences. They have the possibility to share information, ideas, test simulations and exchange data. All the topographical data acquired on the archaeological sites involved in the project, together with all the historical sources collected, converge in a virtual multiuser domain where users can meet, dialog, modify the scene or the map of the relations of cultural contents, according to their own interpretation and personal hypothesis, discussing them with other users. The project has been finished in March 2009, it can be considered as a pilot-study case. Another off line Multiuser VR project has been just concluded by our lab: the Virtual Museum of Via Flaminia Antica, opened to public fruition in the National Roman Museum at Diocletian Thermal Bath, since January 2008. The via Flaminia was a roman consular road, built in 220 B.C. and connected Rome and Rimini, in Northern Italy. The conditions of fruition led us to project this application mainly for communication, combining different kinds of media. Four visitors interact in the same virtual environment through their avatars using joysticks and their computer screens. They meet inside the archaeological sites along the first thirteen miles of Via Flaminia: Livia’s villa Milvian Bridge, the area of Grottarossa and the ancient arch of Malborghetto. Through their actions they create, in real time, a virtual performance on a large screen for all the audience present in the room. On this large screen discovered contents, like movies, multimedia, 3D reconstructions, can be visualized in stereoscopy. In this way the interaction of each user-avatar inside the virtual world is finalized not only to his own learning but to collective interpretation, collective actions, common storytelling. In the next future we would like to extend the concept of “multiuser domain” to artificial life. We imagine a virtual scenario where artificial creatures, self-organized in the territory, able to develop autonomous behaviours, can relate with human users, in an unpredictable network of possible relationships and events. Artificial life can be very useful to simulate natural and social phenomena on the territory. Territory is perceived, interpreted, occupied, lived according to different meanings or symbolic values that living beings give to places. That is why the “space” become “places” and the territory become a “map” in our mind. “Virtual Rome” is another project that VHLab is developing for Seat Pagine Gialle and Promoroma: the WebGIS VR technology will enable to explore in real time the areas of Appia Antica, via Flaminia and Imperial Forum valley.
Virtual ecosystems; Alive virtual environment; Multiuser domain; Artificial life and artificial intelligence; Virtual storytelling; Access and sharing of data; Possibility of editing of virtual scenario; Transparency of data and methodological processes (top-down and bottom up approaches).
Main advantages are:
• Valorization and communication of cultural heritage • Improvement of learning • Cultural impact on research and on general public • New tools of interaction and data sharing • Multidisciplinary approach • Integrated methodologies and technologies • Tools for interpretation of cultural contexts.