Missing the Point? It’s the experience Dummy!

The last two weeks I was busily developing and presenting a draft of my proposed Research Flow Chart.  My old age must be setting in, because I find it harder and harder to develop succinct research ideas!  In an attempt to make sense of what I am trying to accomplish, I drafted a short paragraph to flesh out the idea and then to act as a guide for my Flow Chart.

Visualizing Southwestern Ontario Socio-Cultural Implications

in Longhouse Morphology and Use

Understanding Longhouse morphology amongst the Southwestern Ontario archaeological landscape as it relates to extinct and descendent populations is problematic.  Historical accounts can be romanticized or even intentionally misleading while socio-cultural variation within homogeneous cultural groups varies wildly based on outside cultural influences, landscape as well as environmental resources and factors.  Visualization of these variable Longhouse features may provide a unique opportunity to engage all stakeholders (public, private, academic and descendent) in redefining what it means to live within a Longhouse community by experiencing it phenomenologically through the archaeological record.

My research will focus on engaging with the archaeological landscape by creating a 3D virtual tool-set specifically designed to allow stakeholders (public, private, academic and to use a procedural 3D model library in order to build in real-time within 3D space, interactive pre and post contact Longhouses of Southwestern Ontario.  Further, when deployed, stakeholders should be able to experience multiple senses of sound, lighting, environmental and atmospheric controls to focus on the association between the physical structure, spatial relationships and the phenomenological experiences of Longhouse landscapes.

The aim of my project is to develop a new way to engage with the archaeological landscape that will help to broaden our understanding of longhouse construction, community organization and external cultural and environmental influences with an eye towards challenging our current assumptions of longhouse communities within the archaeological record.

Visualizing Longhouse Morphology and Use
Visualizing Longhouse Morphology and Use

Combined with what I think is a good start to a traditional Research Flow Chart, I’m relying heavily on Landscape and Phenomenological Archaeology.  When I initially presented the concept, my colleagues became engaged when I started talking about having stake holders actually experience the environment virtually, but with the aid of sound and smell.  One colleague who has been a site interpreter for Sainte Marie Among the Hurons in Northern Ontario indicated that when school groups first enter their reconstructed longhouses, people stop in the doorway to adjust their eyes……I stopped myself to think, how can I created the same effect in 3D?  Then the museum also uses the smell of a fire burning in the hearth or sweetgrass smouldering along with the sounds of everyday life to bring the landscape to life!  These Phenomenological experiences, combined with visual elements like light, atmospherics (smoke, rain, snow, dust) and texture help to extend that experience.

Maybe it’s the experience that is more important than how one builds that experience?  Can that experience be reproduced repeatedly?  Should it?

It took a while, but I think “it’s the experience Dummy!“, that I’m finally catching onto.



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