lunedì 4 febbraio 2013

The great illusion (part two)

Another interesting side effect of the dogmatic identification between archaeological reconstruction and monumental rebuilding is the illusion that there is a 3D for archaeology, and 3D itself is a communicative language rather than an absolutely neutral technology.

A corollary of this belief is that everything we make in 2D is by definition trivial and ‘not so cool’ because unrealistic and technologically poor. 
Yet in 2D you can do wonderful things like this ... Or others, which, are not just meaningless, as I hope these animations* are, made for a project which I have already written about some posts ago … (still in italian, sorry!).
So absolute is the reliance on 3D that many young archaeologists plunge into specialized training, hoping that this will find them a job. Many students enroll in courses geared towards training 'experts in 3D modeling for cultural heritage'. The truth is that these courses sell cheap hopes that there is a specific branch of computer graphics for archaeology or cultural heritage. 
So, young archaeologists end up crushed by the market of communication since there is no real CG for archaeology. Of course, the responsibilities are spread, and equally split between the academic world dozing in front of any innovation, heritage policies bewitched by special effects and last but not least the absence of a really bold and innovative business culture. 

An exclusive and uncritical attention to the charm of digital technologies leads to a neglect of the broader theme of communication. Deposits, treasures and finds are but a small part of cultural heritage. It is expertise, creativity, expressive languages ​​and narrative skills that make up the core of cultural heritage. 

In short, even virtual archaeology, whose DNA is naturally inclined towards innovation and modernity, is unlikely to be fully exploited to create development, neither in a cultural nor in an economic perspective. The ability of our graduates to imagine, build stories and describe complex worlds of knowledge remain unused, while mass media continues to propose a Rome of marble, a dark Middle Ages and other trivial stereotypes, allowing the scientific content and the real charm of our heritage to disappear.
We would do better to remind us: neglecting to ask the technologies to really listen, we continue to let others to tell our “histories from the earth**”. 

the end

*The animations are realized by Fabio Gagliardi and Donato Vero. ** Reference is to Carandini’s classical manual “Storie dalla terra”.

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