Dr. Christian Benedik
Albertina - graphic collection Vienna,
Dep. for architecture
exhibitions, digitising, resource description
A huge mass of cultural content is now available by digitised information, but we do need more time than ever to find the required information in our non structured information-network. It can't be the goal to offer a full digitised cultural world, because already nowadays we reached the limit of a critical mass of information.
Analysing the parameters by taking a closer look as an architectural historian, whose daily work consists of planning and realising exhibitions as well as to bring our visitors in contact with old architectural drawings, it seems to be better or, let's say, more efficient for the future to turn around and keep an eye on the other side of the medal. It's the important difference between 'artificial' and 'virtual'.
Everybody knows at least one MM-application, which offers an reconstruction of a building e.g. a middle-age cloister. Virtual reality as we use to say. Basis for this reconstruction were maybe some old drawings and paintings from cloisters or a films. We have to consider, that it wasn't the author's aim to reconstruct a specific historical cloister. Therefore an imagination is offered, which suggests the user to see a former existing building, but it's a fake. There was nothing existing looking like this.
The reconstruction arises from fantasy and the whole content is artificial, and I therefore prefer to speak about 'artificial reality'. On the other hand side art historian try to go another way. Reconstruction by using only original architectural drawings and other authentic materials. Every single detail, which is not handed down, will not be reconstructed. There is now space left for fantasy or something like that. I think that only such an application should be called 'virtual reality'. This 'virtual reality' is able to bridge up the gap between the scientific and abstract content within our museums and the needs of our 'have fun' orientated society.
Our modern graphic methods and the technical solutions at the field of the 3-dimensional imagination gave us the possibility to offer a more easy access to difficult medium of architectural drawings. If course it can't be our goal to offer virtuality for every existing, destroyed or never realised architecture. It's more important to offer prototypes for the solution of various problems.
Following this second way - the other side of the medal - we will at first increase knowledge about architecture, the different kind of graphic presentation, its content and the development of methods. Second we give support to fire everyone' s imagination through learning by doing, which means showing every single step from the drawing to the 3-dimensional building. Third we awake interest by our users to study more intensive the original drawings, because being able to read and therefore to understand the ideas behind the drawings, a new fantastic world inside our history of the human beings will be opened.
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