In October of 2013, the University of California, San Diego sent quite a large contingent out to the revolutionary UNESCO ICOMOS IEEE Digital Heritage International Congress in Marseilles, France. We were one of the (if not THE) largest North American teams present, with representatives in almost all of the various categories under discussion.
Check out the full UCSD article by Doug Ramsey on the subject: Qualcomm Institute Joins World Leaders at Digital Heritage International Congress. Which included the following excerpt, which sums up some of mine and Vid’s research rather nicely:
“It is marvelous to see this level of much needed interdisciplinary convergence between science and technology related fields and the humanities,” said Ashley Richter, an archaeological anthropology Ph.D. student at UC San Diego who gave a talk on “Digital Archaeological Landscapes and Replicated Artifacts: Questions of Analytical and Phenomenological Authenticity and Ethical Policies in CyberArchaeology.”
“CISA3 has been one of the few bastions of this kind of thing for a while now,” Richter continued. “It is wonderful to be a part of CISA3 and to represent one of the longest established groups that has been fighting for and working towards futuristic interfaces for the study of the past. Cultural heritage diagnostics are one of the most exciting areas of engineering development and education drivers that can cross the line from STEM to STEAM projects on a global level and open dialogue between academia, industry, and government in unprecedented ways.
Richter’s presentation discussed the ethical, sociological and psychological approaches to implementing digital systems and open access to cultural heritage information. Richter noted that retaining the authenticity of spaces and objects that are digitally replicated is paramount and discussed technologies that are increasingly being used to retain that authenticity, such as laser scanning, structure from motion, augmented reality and 3D printing. Richter also noted the need for rapid international legislation and standard systems to address global efforts to acquire, share and utilize emerging cultural heritage data sets.”
In addition to the above mentioned paper on Digital Authenticities by Vid and myself, we were co-authors on a variety of other papers and posters presented by our colleagues. I’ve included all of the lovely erudite abstracts in full below. If you’d like to see the associated powerpoint for the Digital Authenticities paper- check it out on Slideshare.
Digital Archaeological Landscapes & Replicated Artifacts:
Questions of Analytical & Phenomenological Authenticity
& Ethical Policies in CyberArchaeology
by Ashley M Richter, Vid Petrovic, DV, Steve Parish, and Falko Kuester.
As cyberarchaeology pushes the boundaries of digital replication of space, objects, and arguably, time itself, it simultaneously adjusts mankind’s perception of these things, their connection to the individual and to culture, and our ability to analyze these increasingly solid intangible data sets. When considered as part of the evolving global modernist perspective, and as something valuable as a comparative analytical tool- these are useful developments. However, with every innovation, comes a price. And in creating virtually solid simulacra of cultural heritage, we must consider the implications of the removed authenticities cyberarchaeologists are creating. How might the ability to have a virtual copy affect international conservation policies for archaeological sites and collected artifacts? What does a virtual and potentially 3D printable version of an artifact mean to the economics of looting? How might digital augmentation in museums be balanced so as not to replace the real artifacts themselves? In developing the interdisciplinary and collaborative big-system cyberarchaeological methodologies and systems like those at the Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture, and Archaeology at the University of California, San Diego, the ethical implications of reactions to digitization and digital analysis are being concurrently evaluated so that some flexible contingencies can be built in as a safety measure to protect the authentic from the misuse of its hetero-utopic virtual counterparts.
Temporal Terrestrial Laser Scanning to Visualize the Archaeological Excavation Process
By David Srour, Ashley M. Richter, Thomas E. Levy, and Falko Kuester
Archaeology is a destructive science. Photographs and videos preserve some aspects of the sequence of events inherent within the archaeological excavation process, but cannot replicate the spatiality and detail of the downward progression of the digging entailed through excavation. Time lapse sequences of properly adapted and employed terrestrial laser scanning to create a temporal sequence of point clouds of the archaeological methodologies can, however, serve as an innovative step towards accurate documentation of crucial data for future archaeologists interested in the site. Over the course of the National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship funded Sediment Intervals and Site Deformation Processes: Exploring Time Lapse Laser Scanning Capabilities and Methodologies for Archaeology, temporal scanning was tested on the beaches of San Diego to establish a baseline capability for data capture. Subsequently, the methodologies for data collection were utilized as a part of the excavation workflow at the University of California, San Diego’s Edom Lowlands Regional Archaeological Project’s excavation of a Roman era section of tell Khirbat Faynan in southern Jordan. With the data collected from the excavation as the impetus for new system development, original visualization processing designed with the archaeological problems and end-goals in mind is being created at the University of California, San Diego Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture, and Archaeology in order to meaningful display the shifting data sets in real time and exhibit not just the archaeological data, but the archaeological process.
Media Commons for Cultural Heritage:
Applied Mixed Media Visualization Storytelling for High Resolution Collaborative CyberArchaeological Displays
By John Mangan, David Srour, Ashley M. Richter, Aliya Hoff, Thomas E. Levy, and Falko Kuester
Archaeology has long utilized visualization as a technique to analyze and disseminate information; however, comprehensive and collaborative analysis and storytelling with this visual data has always been limited by the capacity of the systems which create and display it. This paper presents a framework for the visualization of rich data collections in high-resolution, networked, multi-tile display environments, dubbed the MediaCommons framework. Through MediaCommons, big cultural heritage data sets of differing formats can effectively be displayed using a myriad of media types and presentation formats for high resolution, effective comparative analysis. The data can be viewed locally by collaborators on the same visualization environment, or interacted with by remote collaborators in similar environments across the world, connecting researchers across space and time, providing a means for international collaboration. The University of California, San Diego’s Center of Interdisciplinary Science for Art, Architecture, and Archaeology has effectively used these systems to collaborate in San Diego, as well as with their international colleagues, such as those at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. Multiple case studies will be presented, highlighting analysis and dissemination of complex singular collections of data for precise analysis, with particular reference to displays of multimedia archaeological data, and especially, the bio-archaeological collections of human remains collected from field sites in the Wadi Fidan region of Jordan.
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