DH Uppsala, Uppsala University, Sweden
VR Infrastructures: Pros and Cons in implementing VR for research, education and outreach
Taking into consideration that historians are today more frequently encouraged to think in terms of digital transduction of historical materials, this talk focuses on the potentials and pitfalls of ‘visualizing’ ‘recreating’ and ‘re-enacting/experiencing the senses’ in constructed Virtual Reality (thereon VR) environments. More precisely, I focus on the very idea of sensory immersion for archaeological enquiry, research, study, and dissemination within cultural heritage. I argue that important and interesting research is made in the process of tool experimentation and tool development. This talk draws upon and showcases two projects conducted on VR at Humlab, Umeå University. The first is an example of rendering historical machines from the archive of the Swedish Industry on VR for supporting the interpretation process in an immersive platform and implementing it for a cultural heritage exhibition at the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology. The second is a collaborative work with ADMD (Slaney, Bocksberger) in capturing the intangible art of Roman Pantomime in the theatre of Pompey on Virtual Reality. What is primarily addressed here in relation to VR experimentation and implementation is what can be coined Infrastructural Tensions- a term borrowed by critical digital disruption and organizational studies. Concluding, the presentation offers a number of recommendations on how to rethink tangible and intangible artefacts, space and place with digital technology in a critical way so as to include social/intellectual categories that correspond to critical research questions in the 21st century. I finally stress the importance of sustainable VR set ups to open up the collection to a wider public and I offer some insight in how to implement VR in education and within cultural heritage organisations.