Giving Form to Absence: Experiences in Representation, Communication, and Narration for the Places and Community of Amatrice

Giving Form to Absence: Experiences in Representation, Communication, and Narration for the Places and Community of Amatrice

Elena Ippoliti (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy), Andrea Casale (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy), Michele Calvano (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy) and Francesca Guadagnoli (Sapienza University of Rome, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6936-7.ch014

Abstract

This chapter is motivated by the possibility of an intelligent use of digital technologies by experimenting with communicational forms and languages to enhance cultural heritage. The experimentation was conducted about a particular case study —the urban space of Amatrice and its community, overturned by the earthquake on 24 August 2016 and the successive aftershocks— with the goal of investigating the opportunities to integrate material and immaterial, tangible and intangible artefacts with reference to the experiences proposed for visitors, the type of individual and collective use, and the digital interfaces/devices and physical supports. The overall goal is to propose various visits, that is, different types of “virtual museums,” investigating in particular the specific contributions that the discipline of representation and the details of its communicational models can contribute to the context of correlations between representation/innovation and technology/communication.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Renewing the Museum

In recent years, museums have been the object of important transformations. If yesterday they were required primarily to conserve and expand their heritage, today they are asked to promote public participation and to collaborate in its cultural and social liberation. Thus, museums are called to reconsider their role in society, promoting social cohesion and helping to reinforce a sense of community belonging. This alternative view has been building in Europe in recent years, due first to the rise of a new economy of knowledge in cultural and creative sectors. This rise has corresponded to a different political culture based on an integrated approach to the cultural heritage, considering cultural, economic, social, historical, educational, environmental, and scientific aspects (European Parliament, 2015).

This new view has also affected museums, which are required to play an active role in both cultural policies and economic and social policies. This radical transformation has also been recognized in Italian regulations, which, in harmony with European Community Resolutions and the UNESCO Recommendation from 2015 (UNESCO, 2015), began to reform the Ministry of Cultural Goods and Activities and Tourism in 2014, defining the new mission of the museum as an institution “in service of society and its development”. Museums are open to the public and do research regarding the material and immaterial record of humanity and its environment. The record is acquired, stored, communicated, and displayed for study, education, and pleasure, promoting knowledge for the public and the scientific community (MiBACT, 2014).

This new perspective proposes a different character for the museum, with a view towards the outside, to the various forms of cultural heritage and, especially, to the public and the different cultural communities that they represent.

These broad, ambitious objectives can be reached with a conscious, intelligent use of digital technologies by experimenting with communicational forms and languages through applications characterized by degree of use, interaction, and interface/device. The present essay is motivated by this possibility. The particular case study adopted—the urban space of Amatrice and its community, overturned by the earthquake on 24 August 2016 and the successive aftershocks—was used to explore some of the possible relationships between digital technologies to simulate space and to develop participatory, immersive forms of communication. In particular, the experimentation presented was conducted with the goal of investigating the opportunities to integrate material and immaterial, tangible and intangible artefacts with reference to the experiences proposed for visitors, the type of individual and collective use, and the digital interfaces/devices and physical supports. The overall goal is to propose various visits, that is, different types of “virtual museums” (Galluzzi, 2010), investigating in particular the specific contributions that the discipline of representation and the details of its communicational models can contribute to the context of correlations between representation/innovation and technology/communication (Ippoliti, Albisinni, 2016).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Ecomuseum: The Ecomuseum overcomes the logic of mere preservation of the stored good to promote a new idea of cultural good as fruit of the territory and therefore distinguished by the signs of human activity. The objective is to enhance the natural, historical, and cultural resources of a determined territory, which is also achieved thanks to the active involvement of the community living there. The Ecomuseum is therefore a participatory practice to enhance the material and immaterial cultural heritage, developed and strengthened by an organized subject, the expression of a local community in the perspective of sustainable development.

Diffuse Museum: The Diffuse Museum encompasses various ideas of museum: from the idea of a museum open to the sky to a museum as large as the entire national territory. All various ideas of the Diffuse Museum have in common the aim of recomposing in the territory the knowledge—historical, artistic, architectural, scientific, material—and emphasize the importance of diversity and cultural specificity. As a rule, a diffuse museum is a thematic museum that proposes itineraries that organize points of interest.

Real-Time Navigation: Real-time navigation is a type of virtual-reality application in which the visitor can move freely without obstacles other than those that a real space would have, and the navigation through the 3D space is fluid because interaction with the virtual environment is in real time, i.e., perceived without delays between input and system response. So that a 3D model can function in these applications, it should be particularly precise in rendering details and contextually “light”, that is, with a restricted number of polygons so that the weight of the geometry does not negatively influence the navigational fluidity. Dedicated software systems are used for these applications. Until a few years ago, these were only used in the videogame sector, but they have become more widely used due to their simplified interfaces.

Texture Baking: Texture Baking is any process aimed at generating libraries of texture maps that describe the different qualities of the surface of a 3D model in a scene (materials, texture, colour, lighting, shadows, reflections, etc.). These are memorized and associated with the information describing the 3D model. This procedure—also called Rendering to Texture —pre-calculates the effects of rendering to generate bitmap images that are expressed in the 2D (uv) system of reference and coherently oriented with the mesh vertices. With this technique, it is not necessary to make involved rendering calculations for each movement of the model because the realistic result is ensured by associating the maps to the surfaces of the object in (uv) space. This procedure is therefore particularly indicated for applications requiring 3D spatial navigation in real time, i.e., perceived without delays between input and system response.

Virtual Tour: The virtual tour is a type of virtual-reality application in which the visitor can observe the reconstructed 3D space in 360°; however, exploration of the space is limited to predefined points. A virtual tour is created by using special software to develop static spherical panoramas that in turn are obtained from 360° photography from a single station. The static spherical panoramas can also be obtained from 3D models.

Interactivity and Immersion in Virtual Reality: Interactivity when speaking about virtual reality refers to the particular relationships established between the digital model and its users. It indicates the possibility that the user participates in the process of information transfer mediated by the computer. A medium is therefore interactive if it allows the user to influence the communicational content or form. There are different levels of interaction: the lowest allows the user simply to choose information; the middle allows the user to create or insert content; the highest makes the virtual environment respond appropriately to the user’s input. Immersion in virtual reality should be correctly understood only in immersive simulations where the user interacts with the environment via all five senses. However, the term usually refers to spatial simulations that are usable only through sight, that is, via screens in which the user has the impression of being able to move freely.

The Series of Earthquakes of 24 August 2016: The series of earthquakes affected an extremely vast area (four regions—Lazio, Umbria, Marche, Abruzzo—and about 140 municipalities), with a truly impressive number of events—more than 49,000 between 24 August 2016 and 23 January 2017. After the first strong tremor, with its epicentre in the Tronto Valley between the municipalities of Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto, the largest shocks came on 26 and 30 October 2016, with epicentres shifted towards the Umbria-Marche border, and on 18 January 2017, with the epicentre towards the south near L’Aquila.

Numerical or Polygonal Representation: Numerical or polygonal representation is the “discrete” description of the shape of an object by means of a finite number of plane faces (triangles or polygons) called a mesh. It is created in the computing environment with graphical software called numerical or polygonal numerical modellers. With this type of representation, the shape of the object is therefore approximated by a polygonal mesh described via vertices, corners, and faces. The numerical representation is necessary in rendering operations and is therefore used when a perceptually accurate description of the object is necessary.

Texture Mapping: This term indicates the process regarding the correct positioning of 2D images (bitmap) on the surfaces of a numerical or polygonal model. More precisely, it is the process through which each mesh of the polygonal model is assigned a particular texture described by a texel (texture pixel) matrix. It is realized by creating a projection correspondence between the mesh vertices—described in 3D orthogonal digital (xyz) space by XYZ coordinates—and the image points—intrinsically oriented according to the 2D (uv) system of reference with UV coordinates. There are different means of realizing these associations, which are distinguished according to the geometric characteristics of the models. Texture mapping is used when a perceptually accurate 3D model is necessary.

3D Modelling or 3D Digital Modelling: 3D modelling or 3D digital modelling indicates the process aimed at reconstructing the three-dimensional form of an object in virtual space generated in a computing environment. The reconstructed 3D form is called 3D digital model or 3D model; the software programs used to create it is called 3D modeller or 3D software.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset