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V R Te c h n o l o g i e s a n d t h e H e r i t a g e S e c t o r
Brief background
When used effectively,VR and other 3D technologies reduce the necessary, artificial
distances between users and artefacts.The potential for manipulation of virtual objects
and the exploration of no longer standing buildings and altered landscapes adds much to
the learning venture, both in terms of educational use and of user enjoyment. Although
still comparatively primitive, head-mounted display equipment in virtual exploration and
learning will assist in the move towards the eventual goal of total immersion and partici-
Despite the possibilities for persuasion and immersion, it may occasionally be prefer-
able to draw attention to the artificial nature of the VR venture.The ARCHEOGUIDE
project combines VR-type reconstructions (such as that of the Temple of Hera
) with
QuickTime-style photorealistic backgrounds.This provides improved contextualisation
over stand-alone VRML, while at the same time drawing the user's attention to the arti-
ficiality of the venture via the juxtaposition of the reconstructed model with digitised
photographs of its present-day surroundings.The name for this technique is `augmented
reality'.The ARCHEOGUIDE team is also involved in developing new tools for
improved organisation and storage of cultural heritage information.
The most exciting and innovative applications of VR in today's cultural heritage sector
are in the performing arts. Interactive performance pieces such as Avatar Farm and Blast
Desert Rain
are testing the boundaries of participation and performance. maria
x, a student at Goldsmith's College, London, has recently begun her doctoral thesis on
the theoretical implications of VR and cyberspace in performance and her work in this
area may have significant impact on the different and evolving ways in which we
consider the relationships between actors, participants, audiences and technology.
The following case studies present a picture of the current uses of VR and other 3D
technologies in the cultural heritage sector today, including VRML, QTVR, and
Augmented Reality (AR) techniques, as well as addressing some of the theoretical issues
raised from the use of VR in performance.The case studies are followed by scenarios
which extrapolate future potential uses of these technologies in a range of types and sizes
of organisation.
Virtual Reality and
Display Technologies
Please see the section on Human Interface Issues, for more coverage of fully immersive interfaces,
including CAVEs and Power Walls.
As the thesis itself is a kind of performance, maria x's progress can be followed at