By Chiara Zuanni
On Thursday, the Institute members reconvened and the three subgroups (provenance, geographies, and visualisation) reported on their first exploration of their respective areas. All the three groups had decided to challenge the boundaries of their themes: the geographies group had expanded their discussion to include chronotopes and the idea of multiple overlapping network creating each time different spaces; provenance had explored the different interpretations and approaches to the theme in archaeology, museology, and art history; visualisation was proposing to go beyond the ‘visual’ and include multisensory and phenomenological approaches.
The group discussion highlighted a common interest for sensory engagement approaches, and the example and possibilities opened up by existing solutions in amusement parks were cited as a possible way forward for developing multi-sensory and emotional visualisations in the heritage sector. For example, the group questioned the use of sounds and smells to convey experiences of the ‘ancient world’: would visitors’ trust in heritage experts be affected by approximate reconstructions of sensory experiences in the ancient world?
The added value and potential risk of creative inputs coming to the fore in a range of heritage interpretations project was therefore discussed. At the same time, following on from the comparison with amusement parks, it was noted that big technological companies are going to draw on the ancient worlds in creating new products, from videogames (e.g. Assassin’s Creed) to immersive experiences. Therefore, it was discussed how academics and museum professionals could work with corporate partners and what the implications of such collaborations on heritage data and visualisations would be. In parallel to technological corporate partners, also action houses kept on emerging as important stakeholders in our discussion about linked open data. For example, data on provenance would have different value to academics, action houses, and museums. It was questioned whether a successful initiative such as the Portable Antiquities Schemes could really work outside of the UK, in different configurations of heritage stakeholders and legislation.
After this group discussion, the subgroup went back to work separately further developing their core ideas, proposals, and questions in preparation of the development of the Proof of Concept. In the afternoon, a plenary session allowed to continue comparing developing lines of thought in the subgroups and to identify further potential shared concepts and problems.
Afterwards, the Ancient Itineraries members went on a field trip to the Soane Museum. The historic house of Sir John Soane, one of the greatest British architects, who had an eclectic collection of antiquities, sculptures, architectural models, paintings and architectural drawings which has been kept as it was at the time of his death, almost 200 years ago. This visit offered as a lot of chances to observe how complex layers of individual biographies, object itineraries, museum practices, and geopolitical histories can be embedded within a collection and contribute to raise multiple questions in relation to our three themes of provenance, geographies, and visualisation.