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Notes from "The future is not flat" meeting

Date:30 May 2016
Author:André Rosendaal
Future is not flat - Introduction
Future is not flat - Introduction

"The future is not flat" reflects the vision of the presenters of a meeting with the same name that ICTOL organized on May 26, 2016 to present three related RUG projects aiming at using digital visualization to explore cultural heritage collections. All three projects received a small grant from the university's "ICT Strategiefonds" to pilot the creation of 3D objects and to experiment with use of these objects in different scenarios.

The first project that was presented was "Curating Media Heritage", presented by Annie van den Oever, Bernd Warders and André Rosendaal (Faculty of Arts). This project aims at creating 3D-models of media apparatuses from the collection of the Film Archive and present these online, combined with other relevant sources such as research papers, research data, patents, user manuals, reports on early usage, video, images and such. Working together with many partners, organized in the Network of Experimental Media Archaelogy, the department of Arts, Culture and Media thus tries to open its archive for research and education, and create an even larger online repository by harvesting objects from collections outside the university. Among the many partners are EYE Film Museum Amsterdam, German Film Museum, Science Museum London and Bratford National Media Museum. The presenters concluded their presentation by saying that the first steps for creating the envisioned online platform had now been taken, and that they were looking for opportunities to work together with partners within the university and beyond to start a follow-up of the project.


Network of Experimental Media Archaelogy
3D model Lumière Cinématographe

Rolf ter Sluis, Curator Academic Heritage of the University Museum, showed a number of items from various collections of the museum. The items were photographed while they were rotating on a platform, a process during which 90 high quality photos were taken. Put together and presented in a web browser, these pictures create the effect of a 3D object that can be turned around. Depending on the object (size, texture), the recording process takes 45 minutes to 2 hours. The objects can be used by researchers, either to investigate them or to decide whether they are useful for hands-on research, by students and possibly for a wider audience.

Jorn Seubers, PhD in Archeology (Faculty of Arts) used a technique called Photogrammetry to construct 3D models of (pre)historic artefacts, and used these in class. Students thus learned to work with these models, partly because the original items are too precious to be taken to class, but also because 3D modelling will be part of their professional working environment. Jorn concluded his presentation by stating that the 3D revolution is not content driven (as should be), but technology driven, and that it is currently hard to find its added value. Still, people including himself are involved, also because they don't want to miss out. But creating these 3D objects requires a lot of knowledge and time, which will prevent a broader use.

RUG lectures and researches can collaborate with the university's Reality Center to design 3D-objects and spaces for use in research and education, Frans van Hoesel, head of the Center told the audience. The experts of the Reality Center can deploy different types of hardware for this, ranging from consumer market VR glasses such as the Oculus Rift to an immense 3D touchscreen or CAVE.

The discussion, led by vice-dean Daan Raemaekers, focused around the question why 3D is useful for research, education and cultural heritage - especially in the Faculty of Arts. Annie van den Oever underlined the need to have access to (digitized) objects that otherwise are unavailable, and to acquire knowledge about using these objects in musea. She also stressed the need to work on this in multidisciplinary teams, both within and outside the borders of the university. Jorn Seubers suggested to use the objects in a flipped classroom context, and to focus on adding context to the technology. For Rolf ter Sluis, the digital version of the objects is not the real thing: however, they can be used to convince people to come to the University Museum to get the real hands-on experience. Frans van Hoesel claimed that the Reality Center can currently already do many of the things people think will be only possible in 5 years time. He also argued that many of the 3D models can be used to prepare for "the real thing", such as examining human tissue.


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