CHArt Twenty-First Annual Conference
THEORY AND PRACTICE
John Pollini University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA.
The Problematics of Making Ambiguity Explicit in Virtual Reconstructions: A Case Study of the Mausoleum of Augustus
The representation of antiquity using virtual reconstructions creates a highly ambiguous relationship between data, interpretation, and presentation. Virtual 3-D reconstructions have considerable value as visualization tools, bringing an immediacy of spatial perception and experience to researchers and students alike. Whether in the context of university teaching and research or the setting of web-based sites on the Internet, virtual reconstructions are problematic intellectual productions. They can be seductive if they lack critique and citation. The relationship between data and reconstruction should be able to be interrogated and clarified on demand, thus allowing consumers of research products (as is already the case with books or site reports) to see the link between evidence and interpretation. When authorship or the evidentiary basis is not transparent, the virtual reconstruction plays a dubious role in education. In other words, while maintaining the immediacy and interactivity of the virtual experience, the equivalent of footnotes should be accessible within the virtual world. This paper presents as a case study a virtual 3-D Mausoleum of Augustus, in which the relationship between written and archaeological evidence and a restored virtual world is made transparent using interactive, intuitive, and visual tools. This paper presents an explanation of theoretical and pedagogical concerns and a demonstration of solutions developed during three years of experimentation with archaeological reconstructions created by students in university courses.
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