Longhouse 3.5.9

It has been a bit since my last post.  In that time I have been writing my dissertation and conducting interviews on how archaeologists react to immersive and non-immersive representations of virtual archaeological data. It’s been a year since we started Lh3.x and in that time technology as always has eclipsed the originally intended platform. Lh3.x was built using Autodesk Maya built assets imported into Unity 4.5-5 and then with some additional modelling and texture mapping changes within Unity. A year ago the only immersive virtual platform we felt could handle the complexity and detail of the (re)imagined data was the Oculus Rift DK2.

dk2However as the assets came together in Unity towards February, I noticed that there was considerable issues with frame rate latency within the DK2. A substantial portion of people are unable to use VR headgear due to the frame rate issues, including myself.  If I spent more than 2min’s with the DK2 on, I felt immediately sick. So I was stuck with developing an environment in which I was unable to participate and quite possibly could cause others issues as well. At the time however, Google Cardboard would have been unsuitable for the level of detail we were attempting and the HTCVive still hadn’t arrived, so it was decided to continue along a DK2 path. We did try to acquire the commercial release of the Oculus Rift early, but were unsuccessful.

htcviveSustainable Archaeology (SA) had early access to the new HTCVive and although the original Lh3.x wasn’t built for the HTCVive platform, Colin Creamer from the SA started hacking an HTCVive version of Lh3.x.  Even with the hack, it was clear that the new technology was far superior to what the DK2 was providing. Having a discussion with Craig Barr, who was the key technical partner on this project, it was decided that we would attempt to convert the OR Unity version of Lh3.x into an HTCVive version.  Craig had his own HTCVive system so he was able to rapidly test what worked and what didn’t. The conversion was not easy, but Craig was able to port a large portion of what we had in the OR Unity version over to the HTCVive environment. The Vive consists of a headset, two hand controllers and two motion sensors. The DK2 requires a single motion sensor (to detect head movement) and an XBox game controller to allow for movement within the virtual space.
alienware-auroraR5

The HTCVive required a more powerful graphics card and processor to run.  For my interviews, we have been using a Alienware Aurora5 with an Nvidia 970 graphics card. From a cost perspective, the combination of the HTCVive and the AW Aurora 5 is roughly $5K CDN, so very cost prohibitive and very difficult to deploy to larger crowds. Unlike the AW Laptop and DK2 setup we used previously, the HTCVive also required more time and equipment to setup.

vagear

As you can see, just to setup the environment, I needed to bring along the AW Aurora, monitor, light stands for the motion sensors and the HTCVive itself.  In the classic “back of the trunk” shot of archaeological equipment going out on a dig, the image below is representative of my trip over to ASI to conduct the first setup and interviews.

virtualarchaeology_equip

Just getting the equipment into the demonstration space, whether across town or in the lab, was still time consuming. Ideally, one should have at least two people to move equipment around, however the HTCVive digital calibration is easily done with one individual. Physically setting up and digitally calibrating the equipment took about 45min’s. The HTCVive requires to two sensors elevated above head height. Unlike the OR DK2, the HTCVive uses the physical space in order to allow users to physically walk while in the digital environment. Kudos to HTC for making the Vive digital calibration and tracking setup so easy! Whether you choose limited space or “map out” your usable space, both setup procedures are easy and quick.

htcsetup

If you would like more information on how to setup the HTCVive, please consult the Steam website. Once the physical space has been mapped digitally, the user then puts the headset on and can use the hand controllers to navigate within the virtual desktop space and then if controls are provided within an application, be able to affect objects or the environment within the simulation.  In our case, Craig provided a “teleporting” tool to allow users to move from section of the digital environment to another when their physical space ran out.  By “teleporting” this then allows users to explore throughout the environment and not just the space determined by the room-scale setup.

The difference between the HTCVive and the Oculus Rift is that with the HTCVive you are actually engaged physically within the digital environment.  When you walk physically, you are walking within the virtual environment.  If you want to pick something up with the controllers (your digital hands), that action must be programmed into the game engine. The OR is similar but you are either stationary standing or sitting and using a game controller to walk within digital space and/or pick up items, which functionality also needs to be programmed. I’m hesitant to use the term “immersive” however, between the two platforms the HTCVive is a highly physically interactive toolset which can convey immersive like qualities.

LaurenW

Once the head mounted display is on and the virtual environment is activated, users can interact with the environment in the same manner as they would within the physical environment.  Again however, to pick items up or to affect change within the digital space, these actions have to be programmed.  The monitor is primarily used for the non HTCVive participants to interact with the user and see what the user is experiencing. This interaction proved very useful when discussing features that where representative in the virtual space with the user and myself.

In Longhouse 4.0, I will be going into depth on the interviews conducted with archaeologists and heritage professionals as they use the immersive and non-immersive longhouse experiences. Some of the key take-aways from the interview process have been; a) users want to interact with the environment and are somewhat constrained to being a passive participant (the Oculus Story Studio has called this the Swayze Effect, where you can be within the environment but cannon effect change) b) that users would prefer immersive experiences over highly detailed and photorealistic desktop interactions c) that there is a technological fetish for innovative tools and users have to go through this stage first before gaining insight into knowledge construction within virtual space.

Stay tuned for the next blog but if you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to post them here!

Cheers,

Michael

 

 

My third draft PhD Proposal

**Update this is the approved version!**

Happy New Year everyone!  After reading a tonne over the holidays and in the hopes that I’m “third time lucky” here is my third draft of my PhD research proposal.  In comparison, my first draft can be viewed here and my second draft here. It’s my additional hope that for future graduate students, some measure of writing progression can be demonstrated by comparing all three.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a group of dedicated Mentors and Supervisors to help navigate the process, provide support and suggest new insights.

As always, do not hesitate to comment, suggest or even challenge what you have read!

Cheers,

Michael

__________________________________________________________________________________

WORKING TITLE: VIRTUAL ARCHAEOLOGY, VIRTUAL LONGHOUSES AND “ENVISIONING THE UNSEEN” WITHIN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD.

MICHAEL CARTER – PHD DISSERTATION PROPOSAL

Keywords: Virtual Archaeology, Virtual Reality, Archaeological Visualization, Archaeology, Northern Iroquoian Longhouses, Agency, Authenticity, Authority, Transparency, Making, Materiality, Wayfaring.

Introduction

My PhD research will include the construction of a virtual, archaeologically-based Late Woodland ancestral northern Iroquoian longhouse. The build and subsequent participant interaction with that space will facilitate an interrogation of archaeological meaning making informed by material and historical data as made “real” in virtual space. The virtual build of archaeological spaces will allow me to test cultural historical assumptions about the architecture and internal layout of these residential structures manifested virtually, and to experiment with the physics and logics of these assumptions. And once constructed, this virtual space will allow me, through semi-structured interviews and participant observations, to examine whether Virtual Archaeology (VA) is an effective means to enhance and expose the conceptual frameworks and mental templates archaeologists operationalize to help bridge the gaps between physical, contextual data and archaeological meaning making.

By specifically focusing on the virtual visualization of a typical northern Iroquoian longhouse, I have chosen a unique cultural manifestation that apart from the remnants of post-hole stains, below ground cultural features and fire hearths, is an archaeological enigma lacking significant above ground visual representation archaeologically or historically. Conversely, there exists a more generally understood “pre-existing mental image” (Ingold 2011:22) of these structures derived from limited historical and oral descriptions, albeit generalized from a narrow period of time and from a range of regional and cultural variations in material expression. Thus I will explore, through the use of virtual 3D model creation, how archaeologists internalize archaeological data and landscapes, material artifacts and oral and written histories in order to “envision the unseen” within virtual reality.

Through the process of making and manipulating the material, and the material – in turn – manipulating the maker, there are also a series of wayfaring points. Wayfaring is a process for taking stalk of the moment in time in which the act of making and the materiality of the raw material requires the artisan wayfarer [1] to stop, evaluate and make course corrections in order to achieve a representative version of their vision (Ingold 2011, 2013; see also Crawford 2015), a process that past and present longhouse builders work through during their construction of such buildings. Likewise, in the act of making within 3D space, there is a similar wayfaring experiential process, one that both mirrors the physical experiential process of longhouse construction while confronting archaeological knowledge and assumptions embedded in that research on ancient longhouse architecture and living.

([1] Defined as a craftsperson that uses their accumulated knowledge through the reflexive application of the physical, material and materiality of the making process.)

In this process of making, and as makers who make course corrections at wayfaring points, the decisions made embody elements of power, agency and authority (Crawford 2015; Ingold 2011, 2013) that draws into question the authenticity of the representative virtual form created. As such, as a virtual artisan wayfarer, I embody and assert a technical, creative and archaeological “expertise.” This creates a unique perspective to archaeological meaning-making that requires me to be reflexive of the power, agency and implicit authority I embed in the process of making within virtual space. Thus as a wayfaring artist, I will need to transparently negotiate the process between virtual builder, viewer and archaeologist, in order to reveal the “continuous correcting” that occurs as decisions are made virtually through the build and through the (re)imagining of a longhouse within the 3D environment (Ingold 2011, 2013).

While it has been a dimension of archaeological practice for over 30 years now, VA continually has failed to build and emerge from a solid foundation of robust archaeological inquiry (Reilly 2015). Rather, this practice has tended to focus more on the application of the tool as novelty and as a visual aid within archaeology, with little consideration on how these tools can expose and even shape our understandings of the archaeological record (Dallas 2007; Gillings 2005; Huggett 2012). It is my claim that virtual archaeology has the potential to provide transformative ways of thinking not only about the practical construction and material realities of longhouse building and dwelling, but also about the mental embodiment of longhouse culture and use that archaeologists have employed in their constructions of ancestral northern Iroquoian lifeways. Thus, the proximate aims of this research are to examine archaeological understandings of agency, authority, authenticity and transparency manifest within a virtual archaeological environment. Ultimately, the aim is to enhance understandings of archaeological meaning-making as applied to and revealed by virtual visualization and interaction in archaeology.

Background

The sublime organic nature of ancestral northern Iroquoian longhouses I am exploring in this research is that they are ideal examples of Ingold’s (2011:19-32) notion of “materials versus materiality.” The organic materials used in the construction of these structures and dwelling spaces dictates the style, use and longevity of the physical materiality of the longhouse itself, which eventually melds back into the environment in which it came, with no above ground traces of those materials or that living materiality left behind (Ingold 2011:26). For archaeologists, this material absence serves as the foundation for imposing archaeological understandings of the ancient materiality of longhouse embodiment. Thus to visualize and describe the material, mental and social properties of longhouses over their life history as ancient-built conceptions of structures, residences and living spaces is to “tell the stories of what happens to them as they flow, mix and mutate” (Ingold 2011:30).  Hence the virtual construction of a longhouse represents the physical and mental interpretation of what that longhouse was, and is this much more than visualizing data. It is also a contemporary narrative in which multiple voices, conceptions and opinions are expressed along the pathway of knowledge creation.

Compounding the challenges of archaeologists to visualize remaining, below-ground vestiges of a three dimensional material space and conception virtually is that, in popular forms of virtual reality, the pervasive use of photo-realism in the entertainment industry has created an expectation –and fallacy – that if it “looks” real, it must be authentic (Denard 2012). This is a theme that plays out time and again in the use of archaeological visualization, whether it is for knowledge makers or for the general public (Colley 2015; Earl 2005; Frankland and Earl 2011). Although the tradition of archaeological illustration has altered little since antiquity scholars began their renaissance studies (e.g. Moser 2012) virtual reality puts a unique spin on this tradition of presenting archaeological visual data in an authoritative and authentic manner (Perry 2015). In doing so, by taking a creative approach to the interpretation of archaeological data within virtual representations, the agency of that data becomes layered upon and seen through the creators lens: what that “artist’s impression” intends the virtual space to convey (see Earl 2013; Frankland and Earl 2011; Frischer et al. 2000; Smiles and Moser 2005; Perry 2015). The digital production of objects, landscapes and narratives makes overt issues of authenticity and authority in archaeological meaning making, creating an interpretive agency in both real and virtual worlds, and as such need to be acknowledged overtly and transparently (Bentkowska-Kafel et al. 2012; Cochrane and Russell 2007; Colley 2015; Earl 2013; Forte 2014a; Huggett 2012, 2015; Pauketat and Alt 2005; Perry 2009; Richardson 2013; Robb 2010).

Rationale and Objectives

Virtual Archaeology has become a powerful tool in the presentation and interpretation of archaeological landscapes and artifacts as a means of knowledge building, meaning making and heritage accessibility (e.g., Dallas 2009; Earl 2013; Forte 2014a, 2014b; Huggett 2013; Perry 2015). It has become a “mediating tool” allowing researchers to experiment with the data and to tease out the tensions that arise from limited and multiple conceptions of the past – a multi-sourced and even multi-vocal environment created to “stimulate interpretation,” explore alternate tellings of the past, and advance new research directions in archaeology (Dallas 2009; Earl 2013; Huggett 2013). Nonetheless, while the practice/study/craft of archaeological visualization has managed to present itself and its output as representative of archaeological meaning making and authoritative presentations of the past, this has occurred without the practice really establishing the basis for that authority (see Earl 2013; Perry 2015). Thus the challenges VA represents within the broader field of archaeological theory and method is going beyond the perceived notion of the technology being a novel means to illustrate archaeological data, and to demonstrate that VA can be a transformative vehicle to engage with material pasts in a way that allows for multiple visions of that heritage to be represented, tested and valued.

Case study

 The proposed research in VA I have and will continue to advance for this PhD is to create an interactive, phenomenological virtual representation of an Iroquoian longhouse. This longhouse will be modelled on an example documented archaeologically from the pre-contact 16th Century of southern Ontario, and specifically from the ancestral northern Iroquoian community identified as the Lawson Village site, located on the grounds of the Museum of Ontario Archaeology (MOA). The process of designing, developing and implementing virtual archaeological data is a relatively new approach to Iroquoian archaeological research and broader knowledge dissemination within Ontario, although physical world public interpretive reconstructions and as case studies of experimental archaeology have been undertaken over the last several decades (e.g. Fecteau 1979; Williamson 2004) As such, my current research will reflect on my own and participants’ experiences of interpreting the data from a visual knowledge building perspective, while addressing and developing protocols to address agency, authority, authenticity, transparency and traditional Iroquoian archaeological research within virtual reality.

By virtualizing an Iroquoian longhouse and by disseminating this project by means of social media and direct participant engagement to the archaeological community, I hope to gain additional insight into how archaeologists conceptualize and “understand” these unique residential structures, since they are the perceived experts of this archaeology. What I am interested in exploring is how these archaeological understandings, as built environments and material spaces foreign to archaeologists’ own lived experiences but culturally and materially understood within the daily lives of ancient peoples (Ferris 2013) arise in interpretive models of this record.

 Methodology

The first stage of my research will consist of researching and then building a virtual ancestral northern Iroquoian longhouse that generally conforms to 16th century archaeological longhouse data, while interrogating the multitude of detailed physical characteristics of the above ground building and space created around and within those longhouses, which can only be assumed archaeologically. Using traditional 3D animation and visual effects, as well as film, television and gaming production techniques derived from twenty years of personal production experience, and following previous test projects conducted at Sustainable Archaeology and Ryerson University, a production schedule, budget and technical pipeline methodology for this research was developed. This also included reviewing relevant cultural material literature, experimental archaeology observations and experiences, along with archaeological community participation, in order to help inform the creation of representative 3D assets (digital artistic components used in the longhouse build) that served as templates and a technical framework for the development of the virtual Longhouse environment.

Following the successful model of employing 3D knowledge experts previously used at Sustainable Archaeology, I brought together professional technical artist expertise to compliment the creation, production and deployment of the virtual Longhouse environment. Using a conventional film and television client-service provider production model, I worked with the computer artist with my direction, informed by written, visual and verbal archaeological research, that would serve as the basis for my “artist’s impression” of the assets to be built within the 3D environment. As this archaeological data became a 3D visual reality, I reflexively made course corrections based on; i) new research I became aware of; ii) comments from the archaeological community; or iii) limitations in the artist’s rendering, technical abilities or software capabilities. Likewise, inherent hardware and software limitations to achieve the representation desired at the resolution preferred also became wayfaring points of decision. At all stages as the virtual environment was being researched and built, these decisions, observations and experiential workarounds were documented, allowing me to reflexively consider the nature of the archaeological, historical, oral and experimental information I was utilizing, as well as my own direction, interpretation and expectations of the content being developed.

This was an experiential process and as such, when new theoretical, methodological, technical, artistic or archaeological data was discovered, it was measured for fit within the project and incorporated accordingly. As such, during the production phase, new technological advances such as the now publically available Ocular Rift immersive virtual reality headset determined the delivery platform on which the final project would be ported and applied within the second stage of this research.

To date, a fully immersive 3D representation of a prototypical 16th century northern Iroquoian longhouse has been constructed. Being initially built in Autodesk Maya, its assets have been ported to a Unity3D game engine that controls not only the visual rendering of the Longhouse itself, but also phenomenological elements such as environ metrics (fire, wind, smoke), sound (flowing water, forest/nature, wind, fire) and the haptic interaction of users in this immersive environment (movement, direction). Further, the delivery platform incorporates the use of both the Ocular Rift immersive 3D glasses, or traditional screen based experiences, which allows for multiple types of participant engagement. This phase of research encompasses 4 years of preliminary pre-production research and testing, and 7 months of 3D production in 2015. As of January 2016 this phase of the research is complete and the longhouse environment It is now fully deployable for the second stage of my research.

The second stage of my research will be to have individuals interact with the virtual longhouse environment, in order to test the utility of this model, and the potential of VA to engage with and advance archaeological cultural historical studies, and reveal the operational logics archaeologists use to inform their interpretive understandings of ancient material spaces. This stage will consist of pre-participation questionnaires, semi-structured interviews during and after engagement, and observing participant behaviour within the longhouse virtual environment. All study participants will be given the option of choosing between a fully immersed virtual reality experience using Oculus Rift immersive goggles, or a less immersive experience with a hand-held controller and TV display.

I intend to work with three sets of up to five (5) Heritage stakeholders, each group representing specific expertise in ancestral northern Iroquoians. These participants would encompass: i) academic and professional archaeologists who have had limited exposure to Virtual Archaeology, but moderate to substantial experience working with ancestral northern Iroquoian archaeology; ii) academic and professional archaeologists who have moderate to substantial exposure to Virtual Archaeology, but more limited experience working with northern Iroquoian archaeology; and iii) heritage and descendent professionals who have or have not had experiences with VA, but do have experience in knowledge dissemination of Iroquoian history/material culture to the broader public. To develop a representative base, I will seek a broad set of adult individuals in age, gender, professional experience and backgrounds. My goals are to: i) document overt participant preconceptions for both their anticipated VA experience and longhouse environments; ii) observe how participants engage with and choose to interact with the virtual longhouse; iii) observe how and discussion participants perceive the virtual environment in terms of authenticity, authority and agency; iv) document their interpretation of the representation and placement of digital assets, landscapes and built structures, as well as v) record any alternative meaning-making they themselves express or advance after interacting with this virtual environment.

As the Oculus Rift goggles, hand held controllers and computer platform that controls the data is highly portable, interviews will be ideally conducted in private at the participant’s place of choosing or at a private, controlled room at Sustainable Archaeology or Ryerson University. Once the subject is in position and engaged with the virtual environment, I will observe the participant’s choices and movement through the environment, and non-prompted verbal responses. I will answer questions only when asked. Lastly after the participant has engaged with the virtual environment, they will be interviewed in a semi-structured manner for no more than one hour with the allowance to provide additional feedback via email if desired. All observations and interviews will be video and audio recorded along with detailed field notes.

Prior to the virtual experience, I will ask participants to describe, based on their academic and professional expertise, what their vision of a 16th century northern Iroquoian longhouse should look and “feel” like. Through the post experience interview, I will seek to understand their perceptions of the virtual environment, the degree to which they felt the representation of that archaeological space mirrored their pre-expectations, and the “accuracy” or authenticity of architectural details, objects and interior and exterior space as rendered. Lastly participants’ will be asked to discuss the role of this virtual environment in archaeological interpretation, and whether they feel VA serves as a visual aid to conventional archaeological interpretation, or how it might facilitate new forms of interpretation. Pre-entry and exit comments provided by participants will assist in gaging if they feel virtual archaeology has no, little or substantial effect on their mental templates and conceptual understanding of longhouses, on the use of virtual archaeology for interpreting longhouse archaeology and the social environment of this lived space.

Contribution

Although this research seeks to advance the use and intent of virtual archaeology as a means of reflexively evaluating archaeological meaning-making, it also will contribute to examining the contested materiality and embodiment of ancestral northern Iroquoian longhouse lifeways by challenging cultural historical norms that bridge archaeological data and assumptions of longhouse construction and use. By deploying the latest 3D asset building and visualization tools, this research can contribute to developing a methodological template for further VA applications and knowledge transfers. Lastly, this research will test the concepts of authority, authenticity and transparency in approaches to archaeological visualization.

Timeline

In progress: I have already constructed a 3D representation of a prototypical ancestral northern Iroquoian longhouse using available archaeological, historical and oral data, along with associated household objects and materials. These assets were created in Autodesk Maya and then ported into the Unity3D game engine. Testing is currently being conducted on the use of Ocular Rift as an immersive engagement platform and Beta deployment of the Longhouse representation has been tested with a limited number of archaeologists for antidotal impressions of the theme and technology used.

Following The London Charter, all steps in the design, development, current implementation and knowledge dissemination of this virtual archaeological research have been recorded and made available specifically to the archaeological community and the public at large through the use of social media.

November 2015 – January 2016: Completion of the 3D construction of the longhouse and associated assets within Maya with a final porting of those assets into the Unity game engine (development began in March of 2015). Technical testing of the delivery platform(s) using Oculus Rift, Desktop and Internet based systems.

January – May 2016: Relevant ethics protocols will be acquired for my case study of user experiences by archaeology and heritage professionals. Once approved, I will undertake participant questionnaires and VA engagements, to be completed by end of May 2016.

June – December 2016: Analysis of interviews and begin writing of dissertation.

January – June 2017: Completion of dissertation and revision as needed.

Research Deliverables: 1) Longhouse 3.x – a completed and interactive digital version of the VA environment used by participants. 2) An article-based dissertation (3 articles i – on the longhouse build; ii – on participant experiences; iii – on theoretical and methodological implications of VA on archaeological meaning making).

References

Bentkowska-Kafel, Anna, Hugh Denard, and Drew Baker
2012 Paradata and transparency in virtual heritage. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Cochrane, Andrew, and Ian Russell
2007  Visualizing Archaeologies: a Manifesto. Cambridge Archaeological Journal 17(01): 3.

Colley, Sarah
2015  Ethics and digital heritage. In The Ethics of Cultural Heritage, edited by Tracy Ireland and John Schofield, pp. 13–32. Springer, New York, NY.

Crawford, M
2015  The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction. Penguin Canada Books Inc., Toronto.

Dallas, C
2007  Archaeological knowledge, virtual exhibitions and the social construction of meaning. Archeologia e Calcolatori(1): 31–63.

2009  From artefact typologies to cultural heritage ontologies: or, an account of the lasting impact of archaeological computing. Archeologia e Calcolatori 20: 205–221.

Denard, Hugh
2012  A new introduction to the London Charter. Paradata and Transparency in Virtual Heritage Digital Research in the Arts and Humanities Series(Ashgate, 2012): 57–71.

Earl, Graeme
2005  Video killed engaging VR? Computer visualizations on the TV screen. In Envisioning the Past: Archaeology and the Image, edited by Sam Smiles and Stephanie Moser, pp. 204–222. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK.

2013  Modeling in archaeology: computer graphic and other digital pasts. Perspectives on Science 21(2): 226–244.

Fecteau, R D
1979  The Longhouse Experiment. KEWA: Newsletter London Chapter, Ontario Archaeological Society 79(2): 1–3.

Ferris, Neal
2013  Place, Space, and Dwelling in the Late Woodland. In Before Ontario: The Archaeology of a Province, edited by Marit K Munson and Susan M Jamieson, pp. 99–111. McGill-Queen’s Press-MQUP, Montreal and Kingston.

Forte, Maurizio
2014a 3D Archaeology : New Perspectives and Challenges — The Example of Çatalhöyük. Journal of Eastern Mediterranean Archaeology and Heritage Studies 2(1): 1–29.

2014b Virtual Reality and Cyberarchaeology. In 3D Recording and Modelling in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Theory and best practices., edited by Fabio Remondino and Stefano Campana, pp. 3–6. ArcheoPress. British Archaeological Reports (S2598), Oxford.

Frankland, Tom, and Graeme Earl
2011  Authority and authenticity in future archaeological visualisation. Original Citation: 62.

Frischer, Bernard, Franco Niccolucci, Nick Ryan, and Juan Barceló
2000  From CVR to CVRO: The Past, Present, and Future of Cultural Virtual Reality. VAST Conference on Virtual reality, Archeology, and Cultural Heritage, Arezzo, Italy.(November): 1–12.

Gillings, Mark
2005  The real, the virtually real, and the hyperreal: The role of VR in archaeology. Envisioning the Past: Archaeology and the Image: 223–239.

Huggett, J.
2012  What lies beneath: lifting the lid on archaeological computing. In Thinking Beyond the Tool: Archaeological Computing and the Interpretative Process, edited by A. Chrysanthi, P. Murrietta, Flores, and C. Papadopoulos, pp. 204–214. Archeopress.

2013 Disciplinary issues: challenging the research and practice of computer applications in archaeology. In Archaeology in the Digital Era, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam, pp. 13–24.

2015  A Manifesto for an Introspective Digital Archaeology. Open Archaeology 1(1): 86–95.

Ingold, Tim
2011  Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. Taylor & Francis.

2013  Making: Anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture. Routledge.

Moser, Stephanie
2012  Early Artifact Illustration and the Birth of the Archaeological Image. In Archaeological Theory Today, edited by Ian Hodder, pp. 292–322. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Pauketat, Timothy R., and Susan M. Alt
2005  Agency in a postmold? Physicality and the archaeology of culture-making. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 12(3): 213–237.

Perry, Sara
2009  Fractured Media: Challenging the Dimensions of Archaeology’s Typical Visual Modes of Engagement. Archaeologies 5(3): 389–415.

2015  Crafting knowledge with (digital) visual media in archaeology. In Material Evidence. Learning from archaeological practice., edited by R. Chapman and A. Wylie, pp. 189–210. Routledge, New York and London.

Reilly, P
2015  Putting the materials back into Virtual Archaeology. St. Petersburg.

Richardson, Lorna
2013  A Digital Public Archaeology? Papers from the Institute of Archaeology 23(1): 1–12.

Robb, John
2010 Beyond agency. World archaeology 42(4): 493–520.

Williamson, Ronald F
2004  Replication or Interpretation of the Iroquoian Longhouse. In The Reconstructed Past: Reconstrucions in the Public Interpretation of Archaeology and History, edited by John H. Jameson, Jr., pp. 147–166. Altamira Press, New York.

 

Longhouse 3.5.7

Today’s post is really a brain dump of the last four weeks of virtual archaeology theoretical reading I’ve been doing and the practical application of the Lh3.x project.

The project itself is going along swimmingly but into the tough phase of honing down the assets so users can run through the experience in real time and with a variety of machine speeds.  Although “polygon count” is always an issue with producing 3D assets for gaming, the focus has been on providing a higher level of authenticity to the overall virtual experience.  In retrospect we probably added too much cultural historical detail, which has slowed real time play down considerably.  Texture maps also pose a problem as the more complex and higher resolution they are, the more memory (like the 3D models) that has to be cached.  Thus, there has been the painful decision to reduce the visual quality or to take certain asset features out in order to retain a high level of interactive play.  In doing so, we are altering one set of experiences in order for another to take greater presence within the virtual environment.

However, this wasn’t the negotiated process I had hoped for when we started out.  Ideally I wanted to challenge the notion that virtual archaeology was just a smokescreen for non-archaeologists to make “pretty pictures”.  That the project would be evidence based and reflective of a strong scientific methodology. Working with the material however, whether virtual or not, alters your perception of what the term accurate or evidence based really means.  Tim Ingold’s book Being Alive, which I’ve just recently reread (and if you are interested, here is reprint of a theory paper I wrote on Wayfaring in virtual space), stresses the material over the materiality of things (2011).  The material shapes our way of knowing and in the process of working the material we gain insight into all of the artistic, technical and cultural factors involved in the cultural object being created.  However, the material’s properties, may it be wood, clay or 3D polygons, still trumps all cultural intentions that have gone into the creation of it. Eventually the material will once again dominate the materiality of the object in question and as in Iroquoian longhouses, will return it from the environment in which it came.

I’ve been mindful not to use the words accurate or authentic as the project has progressed.  Archaeologists make meaning from the artifacts, landscapes and environments they study.  In doing so they are creating their own interpretations of what the cultural material means, drawing upon personal knowledge creation, other stakeholder knowledge and opinions from experts such as Historians, Anthropologists and content specific Archaeologists.  In essence we’re creating a narrative, which is one of many narratives that can be developed when looking at a potsherd, buried viking hoards or longhouse postmold stains.  Readily I admit that I haven’t reached out to Decedent stakeholders, experimental archaeologists or other non-Iroquoian built heritage specialists to garner opinion or guidance.  I wanted this process to be my interpretation of the archaeological record, oral and written histories.  But as you work with the material more, coming across technical, creative or research material limitations there is a negotiated process that kicks in, forcing you to make tough decisions that takes you further away from that well intentioned goal in which these stakeholders might help support.

Ingold considers these “course corrections” as part of the symbiotic relationship between the practitioner, tool and material (2011).  Each movement whether deliberate or not, is part of the larger holistic process of creating and is thus valid from a theoretical perspective.  In essence my struggles as both an artist and a researcher is part and parcel of larger narrative that Ingold speaks of and that our virtual longhouse embodies.

Lately I have been having difficulty as an artist choosing between the two types of visual experiences that this project has created. On the one hand, the virtual real time experience of a gaming environment allows for those phenomenological experiences to play out more readily.  On the other, the still or sequenced, highly manicured rendered photorealistic images still dominates as being desirable representation of elusive “fact”.

Lh3x_still_game

On the left in the image above is a screen grab of Lh3.x within the Unity game engine.  On the right is a high resolution and rendered version of the 3D assets.  The rendering on the right has lighting that is obviously more effective and the textures are more vibrant.  You can almost imagine being right in a real-life environment.  Whereas the game quality version, clearly sets up our expectation that this experience will be representative but not quite realistic.

Tom Frankland suggests that our perception of photo-realistic reconstructions carries with it a false sense that the image generated is authentic and because of its perceived authenticity, it is accepted psychologically as fact by those viewing it (2010). He goes on to comment that non-photorealistic rendering (NPR), like the image on the left, might actually enhance our ability to accept different modes of interpretation and meaning-making because it frees us from the notion that what we are looking at is “fact” (Frankland 2010).  Ultimately however archaeologist must take caution in the visualization approach they use and I would argue the transparent paradata they provide, so that (re)imagined visualizations aren’t perceived as sacrosanct truth.

Although the entrenched tradition of archaeological illustrations, specifically through field notes, has altered little since antiquity scholars began their renaissance studies, virtual reality puts a unique spin on presenting visual data and individual opinions in a very authoritative and authentic way (Perry 2015). In doing so, by taking a creative approach to the interpretation of the archaeological data, the agency of that data is now layered upon and seen through the creators lens; what “artist’s impression” intend the virtual space to convey (see Earl 2013; Frankland and Earl 2011; Frischer et al. 2000; Moser and Smiles 2008; Perry 2015).  Essentially what I and Craig represent virtually in Lh3.x is artistic narrative building, but grounded within initial archaeological data which in no measure should be considered archaeological “fact”.

In the next Longhouse 3.5.8, I’m going to talk about our issues of populating the virtual space with material culture that is somewhat representative of the era and culture we are dealing with.  In the scene below we used 3D modelled cured ham legs to give the example of drying meat, but a nudge about Experimental Archaeology from Bill Engelbrecht and a chance discussion with Archaeologist Martin Lominy from Aboriginal technologies provided a unique perspective on how the 15th Century Northern Iroquoians might have dealt with such issues as drying meat and how we might represent that visually.

Lh3x_ham

 

 

 

Works Cited:

Frankland, T.J.
2010   A CG artist’s impression: depicting virtual reconstructions using non-photorealistic rendering techniques. In Thinking Beyond the Tool: Archaeological Computing and the Interpretative Process., edited by Angeliki Chrysanthi, Patricia Murrieta-Flores, and Constantinos Papadopoulos. Archaeopress, Oxford, UK, November 11.

Frankland, Tom, and Graeme Earl
2011   Authority and authenticity in future archaeological visualisation. Original Citation: 62.

Frischer, Bernard, Franco Niccolucci, Nick Ryan, and Juan Barceló
2000   From CVR to CVRO: The Past, Present, and Future of Cultural Virtual Reality. VAST Conference on Virtual reality, Archeology, and Cultural Heritage, Arezzo, Italy.(November): 1–12.

Huggett, J.
2012   What lies beneath: lifting the lid on archaeological computing. In Thinking Beyond the Tool: Archaeological Computing and the Interpretative Process, edited by A. Chrysanthi, P. Murrietta, Flores, and C. Papadopoulos, pp. 204–214. Archeopress.

Ingold, Tim
2011   Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. Taylor & Francis.

Moser, Stephanie, and Sam Smiles
2008   Introduction: The Image in Question. In Envisioning the Past: Archaeology and the Image, pp. 1–12. Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK.

Perry, Sara
2015   Crafting knowledge with (digital) visual media in archaeology. In Material Evidence. Learning from archaeological practice., edited by R. Chapman and A. Wylie, pp. 189–210. Routledge, New York and London.

 

Ingold & Wayfaring from a Digital Perspective

This post is a reprint of a 2011 Theoretical Archaeology paper I wrote in my first year of PhD studies.  Recently I was challenged by my supervisory committee to point to a theoretical framework that I would use for my PhD research and in those notes was a comment about Tim Ingold’s book Being Alive which we read extensively. In the four years since that course, I had completely forgotten about Ingold, although his books always seemed to be physically in the way on my desk!  I took the weekend to read it again and found, as I did four years ago, that his take on wayfaring blended nicely with the 3D animation/virtual reality process.

The paper below was my way of figuring out how Ingold and wayfaring fit within my initial research on developing an interactive 3D longhouse builder which eventually became Longhouse 1.0.  I hope you enjoy it for what it is, but I thank my committee for reminding me of Ingold’s influence on my research.To really understand the impact of the 3D CGI digital taskscape within the archaeological landscape, one needs to envision a virtual environment, empty of traditional senses. A black void of infinite 3D space, entirely dependent on user input, direction and purpose. A habitat entirely dependent on the coming into being, capture or importing of a single point, surface or object for any form of wayfaring to begin. This requires a paradigm shift of unparalleled magnitude, as the virtual world is a meshwork of organic, ever evolving tissue, influenced by an infinitesimal amount of inputs, properties or attributes. By breaking down the virtual world, to its most simplistic nuclei, the point, archaeologists can begin to understand the ramifications and rewards of digital archaeological methods, while formulating a new theoretical language to enhance the understanding of what digital means to archaeological study.

 


In an effort to have this paper peer reviewed and published, I have have taken this post down. For anyone interested in obtaining a PDF copy of this student paper, please contact me directly at wmcarter@ryerson.ca.

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May 22, 2017

I am pleased to announce that a modified version of this paper has now been published in the Virtual Archaeology Review and can be accessed here: https://polipapers.upv.es/index.php/var/article/view/6056. I’m grateful to my mentors Neal Ferris, Paul Reilly and Costis Dallas for their generous support and to Dr. José Luis Lerma for his constant editing suggestions as I developed this notion of Ingold’s wayfaring as a means to understanding meaning-making within 3D environments.

Cheers,

Michael

My second draft PhD Proposal

**Update the final approved PhD Proposal can be viewed here**

This is my second draft of my PhD Proposal.  My first is located here to compare.  In this round, I tried to better describe the actual research and how it might impact archaeological study.  I would really appreciate any thoughts or comments, negative or positive so I am able to better improve on this proposal.

Cheers,

Michael

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MICHAEL CARTER – PHD DISSERTATION PROPOSAL

WORKING TITLE: VIRTUAL ARCHAEOLOGY, VIRTUAL LONGHOUSES AND “ENVISIONING THE UNSEEN” WITHIN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD.

Keywords: Virtual Archaeology, Virtual Reality, Archaeological Visualization, Archaeology, Northern Iroquoian Longhouses, Agency, Authenticity, Authority, Transparency.

Introduction

My PhD research will be comprised of two parts; a) the use of quantitative archaeological data, qualitative oral and historical accounts of 15th Century Northern Iroquoian longhouse construction and use, combined with virtual archaeology methods and theories, to envision and document a prototypical Iroquoian Longhouse, constructed within virtual space and b) to explore virtual archaeology meaning-making as it pertains to archaeologists perception of virtual reality and the visualization of archaeological data. By using the archaeological record as it pertains to the physicality of longhouse construction and use, we are able to envision the unseen. Many cultural, economic, societal and environmental factors help to inform this inquiry, however my desire and goal is to develop both a theoretical and virtual model of the fundamental features of a longhouse that is the manifestation of the dynamic archeological landscape, oral and written histories as well as the creative imagination of the artists and technicians who will ultimately be tasked with digitally reimagining these elusive, iconic and culturally significant architectural symbols of the Northern Iroquoian existence (Watts 2009; Woodworth 1998). Technology is at the point where we can provide an almost hyper-real experience to the participant viewer, may they be scholar, Descendant or the public (Frankland and Earl 2011; Forte 2014a; Gabellone et al. 2013; Giddings 2015; Morgan 2009; Moser and Smiles 2008). Further, that same technology potentially allows the participant to interpret and modify the objects and material being displayed/provided, giving them the ability to reorder, reinterpret or remix at will (Fisher and Twiss-Garrity 2007; Frankland and Earl 2011). These are the machinations that now loom over virtual archaeology and ones we must examine critically and systematically.

Background

Using the (re)imagination of a virtual Northern Iroquoian Longhouse in virtual reality as context to inform our exploration of virtual archaeology, this research will be guided by and include theoretical elements from Dawson, Levy and Lyons (phenomenology and presence), Reilly, Barceló, Frischer, Forte, Dallas, Huggett, Gillings (virtual archaeology) and Watts, Ferris, Robb, Frankland, Earl, Perry, Gosden, Denard (agency, authenticity, authority and transparency) among others from a virtual perspective and Dodd, Wright, Kapches, Snow, Williamson and others from a Northern Iroquoian longhouse construction and use perspective.

With rapid advancements in technology, there now exists a cornucopia of progressively successful attempts to engage the archaeological record within virtual reality or virtual archaeology. As with most applications of theory in reality, there too is a split between the qualitative and the quantitative nature of the technology and how it is implemented. Reilly, Barceló, Frischer and others see the digital tools, the process and the outcomes as part and parcel of the quantitative, scientific nature of archaeological research; data that should be represented by and through scientific means. Dawson, Levy, Lyons and Forte, see virtual archaeology as a phenomenological emotional experience in which the participant isn’t a passive viewer, but an equal partner in the exploration of the multi-vocal archaeological landscape where the data, material culture and the visual (re)imagination of the archaeological environment are engaged through the users eyes.

The transformative nature of technology and in particular our ability to manipulate digital data freely, whether visual or not, has given form to a multi-vocal approach to the interpretation of the archaeological record (Forte 2011, 2014a, 2014b). Following Hodder, Forte sees multi-vocal engagement within virtual archaeology as the ability to allow for multiple voices to engage and contribute to the overall interpretation of the virtual archaeological environment (2008; 2011, 2014a, 2014b). This authentic multi-vocal experience can lead to new research questions and hypotheses, disrupting the notion of the archaeologist as the interpreter of the “truth” (Earl 2013; Forte 2014b). As (digital) archaeologists, we are no longer the singular authoritative voice, but providers of material and assets in which stakeholders and the public themselves can construct and reimagine their own cultural presence within virtual space (see Earl 2013 & Perry 2014; Dasgupta 2006; Forte 2011 & 2014b).

Dawson, Levy and Lyons called this phenomenological experience presence; “the emotional connectedness of being transported to another time and place” (see Dawson et al. 2011). Although their study group were descendent participants, can this same experience be true for non-descendants as well? Can archaeologists use this technology and methodology in a phenomenological way to envision what isn’t seen in the archaeological record to better inform current and future research (see Watts 2009)?

Longhouses occupy a special narrative amongst descendent Iroquoian societies and modern archeologists. An active and engaged oral tradition has given the longhouse a spiritual existence in which the North American modern day longhouse continues to be a powerful symbol of community for those descendent populations, representing an architectural lineage that exemplifies agency and a unique way of life (see Heidenreich 1972; Kapches 1994; Mohawk 1978; O’Gorman 2010; Watts 2009; Woodworth 1998).   At the base level, the longhouse represents community in both physical and metaphysical traditions, embodying the physical to convey societal, cultural and political worldviews (Hayden 1968; Heidenreich 1972; Mohawk 1978; O’Gorman 2010; Ramsden 2009; Varley & Cannon 1994). For Iroquoian culture, the longhouse was a symbol of how the community functioned and was politically structured within their larger world, forming the boundaries of their influence, and symbolic of the longhouse itself (see Allen & Williams-Shuker 1998; Heidenreich 1972; O’Gorman 2010; Mohawk 1978). Though limited physical remnants remain of these structures, they are subjectively alive in the contested colonial writings and descriptions of historical explorers, the oral traditions of cultural descendants and the visual imagination of modern writers and filmmakers (Boyden 2013; Heidenreich 1972; Thwates 1896-1901).

Although the archaeological record reveals several centuries of longhouse and village-like settlement patterns for the Late Woodland, the modern perception of what a longhouse hypothetically looked and felt like is really derived from the latter part of the Late Woodland (sometimes referred to as the Terminal Woodland; see Ferris and Spence 1995), where archaeological and historical data come together to provide a general “convention” for what a longhouse “should be” (Snow 1997; Williamson 2004; Wright 1995). Further, it is these idealized non-native interpretations that continue to reinforce not only the academic but also the public’s notion of what a longhouse was and is (Williamson 2004). It is from these qualitative and quantitative data points that we will explore what a longhouse is physically within the archaeological and historical record.

My understanding of the visualization of longhouses from the archaeological record arises principally from the work of four archaeologists; J.V. Wright, Mima Kapches, Christine Dodd and Dean Snow. Due to the lack of any real physical evidence, models of longhouse use, style, agency, and construction have been hotly contested for decades (see Kapches 1994; Snow 1997; Williamson 2004; Wright 1995). The work of these archaeologists, in combination with continued observations and challenges from other exemplary researchers, form a base of understanding that helps to frame how longhouses were constructed. Using Dodd’s extensive quantitative research gleaned from an exhaustive review of longhouse data derived from field excavations (1984) and based on the qualitative and quantitative observations of Wright (1971), Kapches (1994) and Snow (1997) among others, a basic template for the construction of longhouses emerges. It is this template we seek to replicate virtually.

Rationale and Objectives

The study of Northern Iroquoian longhouses is a mercurial archaeological endeavour. Fragments of these once grand physical manifestations of social, cultural and political agency within the Late Iroquoian phases of the Ontario complex (Birch & Williamson 2013) are little more than “ghosts” below the soil line within the archaeological landscape. Soil stains are all that remain of the supporting posts and exterior walls of these unique cultural buildings representing only a small glimpse into how these dwellings once functioned or even looked.

These soil stains and the cultural material associated in and around the boundaries of these transitory structures, as well as historical Eurocentric writings and drawings and the oral traditions of descendent cultural groups, are what now form our archaeological understandings of the lifecycle of a longhouse, and more importantly, the cultural significance these structures played within Iroquoian life (Woodworth 1998). However, the enigma is that our understanding arising from these data points is imaginatively speculative at best and thus the challenge is to not only visualize these lost cultural manifestations, but also to embody all of the senses that the archaeological landscape cannot preserve; the haptic, olfactory and auditory – in other words the phenomenological (see Watts 2009). The ability to experience the application of sight, sound, smell, and touch in context, helps to embody the overall phenomenological archaeological experience (Dawson et al. 2011) and in turn may provide further understanding to the archaeological record. These are some of the challenges that frame the current debate on what a longhouse is and how it shapes our understanding of the lifeway of the people who thrived within these architectural representations of Iroquoian culture.

Virtual reality by definition is an interpretation of self within a different space, time or plane (see Sutherland 1965). It is narrative generating and thus both the technology and the process of creating virtual reality have borrowed heavily from the entertainment industry (see Frankland and Earl 2011 and Denard 2012). In doing so, by taking a creative approach to the interpretation of the archaeological data, the agency of that data is now layered upon and seen through the creators lens; what “artist’s impression” intend the virtual space to convey (see Earl 2013; Frankland and Earl 2011; Frischer et al. 2000; Moser and Smiles 2008; Perry 2015). The digital reproduction of objects, landscapes and narratives have agency both in the real and virtual worlds and as such must be treated with equal consideration and respect (Earl 2013; Forte 2014a; Huggett 2012a, 2015; Pauketat and Alt 2005; Richardson 2013; Robb 2010).

Thus my research will focus on the interpretive nature of virtual archaeology not only to visualize but also to inform archaeological research. It will embody the framework of agency, authority, authenticity and transparency by addressing them systematically through the research, visualization and dissemination of archaeological theory and knowledge as it pertains to the visualization of a typical Iroquoian longhouse. In doing so, my research will allow for a new perspective in longhouse construction and use, while further enabling a robust scientific approach to the use of virtual reality within archaeological research.

Case study

 This proposed research will provide representative visual material to be used as one interpretation based on the archaeological data, oral and written histories of an interactive phenomenological virtual representation of Iroquoian longhouse use within the pre-contact 15th Century, for the Museum of Ontario Archaeology (MOA) and Sustainable Archaeology (SA). The design, development and implementation of virtual archaeological data are a relatively new approach to Iroquoian archaeological research and knowledge dissemination within Ontario. As such, this research will reflect on the experience of interpreting the data from a visual experience while still addressing and developing protocols to address agency, authority, authenticity, transparency and traditional Iroquoian archaeological research within virtual reality.

By virtualizing an Iroquoian longhouse and by disseminating this project by means of social media to the archaeological community, I hope to gain additional insight into the construction methodologies and use as perceived by experts within the community. This form of multivocal meaning-making will allow not only my research, but those of others to potentially voice how longhouse construction and use might have been employed by the 15th Century Northern Iroquoian peoples through a mashing of ideas and concepts. In doing so, I am engaging a broader knowledge base, while continuing to establish a visualization template developed through established quantitative archaeological data.

As the end product, a fully immersed virtual reality archaeological representation of a typical Iroquoian longhouse, will be presented to MOA guests, stakeholders and governmental representatives, the process and the product must adhere to accepted archaeological method and theory. It is in this process that my research will be tested not only by the data presented, but the phenomenological experience provided.

Methodology

Virtual Archaeology has become a powerful tool in the interpretation of archaeological landscapes and artifacts as a means of knowledge building and meaning making (see Dallas 2009, Earl 2013, Forte 2014a & 2014b, Huggett 2013 & Perry 2014). It has become a “mediating tool” allowing researchers to experiment with the data and to tease out the tensions that arise from a multi-vocal environment (see Dallas 2009 & Earl 2013). These alternate visions help to “stimulate interpretation” creating multi-channeled narratives which spur on additional and unforeseen research questions (Earl 2013). As such, what is apparent is that the practice/study/craft has transcended beyond the internal realm of archaeological study to be fully accepted externally as representative of archaeological studies without it really establishing itself as an accepted cannon of archaeological research (see Earl 2013 & Perry 2014). Thus the challenges virtual archaeology represents within the broader field of archaeological theory and method, is going beyond the perceived notion of the technology as a tool to archaeologically illustrate data, but as a transformative vehicle to engage with the material culture in a way that allows for all visions to be represented, tested and valued.

I intend to test the perceived notion of virtual archaeology and it’s ability or inability, to inform and contribute to the broader archaeological study between three sets of Heritage Professionals with specific expertise in Northern Iroquoian research: i) Academic and Professional Archaeologists who have had limited exposure to Virtual Archaeology, ii) Academic and Professional Archaeologists who have moderate to substantial exposure to Virtual Archaeology and iii) Heritage Professionals who deal with the knowledge dissemination of archaeological material to the broader public. To develop a representative base, I will seek a broad set of individuals in age, gender, professional experience and backgrounds. My goal is to: i) observe how Heritage professionals perceive the virtual environment in terms of authenticity, authority and agency, ii) document their interpretation of the representation and placement of digital assets, landscapes and structure as informed by my interpretation of the archaeological, oral and historical data, and iii) record any alternative meaning-making they themselves would develop after experiencing my interpretation of the archaeological record in virtual reality.

All study candidates will be given an option of choosing between a fully immersed virtual reality experience using Ocular Rift immersive goggles or a less immersive experience with a hand-held controller and TV display. The study methodology will comprise of: i) observations of the three types of study participants and ii) semi-structured interviews and commentary from the participants pre, in the course of and post virtual reality experience. A pre-experience questionnaire will be developed to determine the participant’s general perception of virtual archaeology. As the Ocular Rift goggles, hand held controllers and the computer platform that controls the data is highly portable, interviews will be ideally conducted in private at the participant’s place of choosing or a private, controlled room within the University. To ensure safety for the participants who choose the fully immersive experience, there will be an option to sit or stand with myself within arms length to guide the participant should their balance be affected. A medical release will be developed in conjunction with the pre-experience questionnaire. Once the subject is in position and engaged with the virtual environment, I will observe the participant’s body movements and non-prompted verbal responses. Lastly after the participant has engaged with the virtual environment, they will be interviewed in a semi-structured manner for no more than one hour with the allowance to provide additional feedback via email if desired. All observations and interviews will be video and audio recorded along with detailed field notes.

Participants will be asked to state their impressions from a professional perspective. They will be asked to comment on the detail or lack there of, of the 3D virtual objects, structure and environment. Prior to the virtual experience, I will ask participants to describe in as much detail as possible, based on their academic and professional expertise, what their vision of a 15th Century Northern Iroquoian longhouse looks and “feels” like. Through the interview, I will seek to understand their perceptions of the virtual environment in terms of agency of the objects and/or representation of the archaeological space, the authority in which the objects are represented and if that authority is enhanced or detracted by the style and manner in which the objects have been rendered. The authenticity of the material presented within the virtual environment based on their professional experience and the transparency in which the project was conducted in providing the appropriate level of detail and description during the (re)imagination process. Lastly feedback will be sought regarding their overall impression on whether virtual reality enhances the scientific methodology of archaeological research and thus, enables a new form of envisioning the archaeological record. I will compare the pre-entry and exit comments to determine if virtual archaeology has no, little or substantial effect on their professional opinion on the use of virtual archaeology as an established scientific methodology, personal meaning-making and desire to expand this process in their own archaeological research and dissemination.

Contribution

I am proposing to design, develop and implement a method for the visualization of archaeological data and speculative academic insight within virtual archaeological environments. That this research method is grounded in the theories that have formed around the study of virtual archaeology, specifically: agency, authenticity, authority and transparency. In doing so, I hope to build upon the continued work of Dodd, Wright, Kapches, Snow and others with regards to Northern Iroquoian longhouse construction and use.

The impact of this study could be substantial. Apart from the pioneering phenomenological work done by Dawson, Levy and Lyons, current research has indicated that no other project is attempting to phenomenologically recreate a 3D virtual pre-contact native dwelling to the level and sophistication usually reserved for high-end gaming or film production. Further, following the recent development of The London Charter, this project will endeavor to develop a body of transparent knowledge, which is archaeological community based and encourages debate and opinion throughout the visualization process. Lastly this project will impact and contribute to the ongoing research and debate on virtual archaeology, it’s application, use and substantial contribution to the study and discipline of archaeology. Using the current language of digital media dissemination, I am attempting to develop a virtual archaeological 3D Wiki; a real-time tool that will eventually allow archaeologists and stakeholders to input as an active member or lurk as a passive participant in the personal archaeological knowledge building process.

Timeline

In progress: I have already constructed using the available archaeological data, a 3D representation of a prototypical Northern Iroquoian Longhouse, along with associated household objects within Maya and have ported those assets into the Unity Game Engine. Testing is currently being conducted on the use of Ocular Rift as a phenomenological engagement platform and Beta deployment of the Longhouse representation has been tested amongst Heritage Professionals for antidotal impressions of the theme and technology used.

Further, following The London Charter, all steps in the design, development, current implementation and knowledge dissemination of this virtual archaeological research have been recorded and made available specifically to the archaeological community and the public at large through the use of social media.

November 2015 – January 2016: Completion of the 3D construction of the longhouse and associated assets within Maya with a final porting of those assets into the Unity Game Engine. Technical testing of the delivery platform(s) using Ocular Rift, Desktop and Internet based systems.

Relevant ethics protocols will be acquired as needed for my case study of user experiences by heritage professionals.

January – March 2016: I will conduct interviews of Heritage professionals. Transcribe any audio and videos collected and collate written comments provided by the focus group participants.

March – December 2016: Preparation of my dissertation. Any interview participants, named and/or quoted, will be given the opportunity to approve whether and in what context their quoted statements appear in the final products.

A detailed breakdown of the approximated thesis section deadlines:

I am choosing to use the Integrated-Article format for my dissertation writing option.

Jan-Mar 2016:                        Article 1 – Case Study (Last 2 weeks of Mar: Revisions)

Mar-June 2016:         Article 2 – Literature Review (Last 2 weeks of Mar: Revisions)

July-Aug 2016:           Article 3 – Methodology (Last 2 weeks of Aug: Revisions)

Sept-Oct 2016:           Introduction (Last 2 weeks of Sept: Revisions)

Nov-Jan 2017:                        Conclusions (First 2 weeks of Jan: Revisions)

Jan-Feb 2017:                        Final Revisions and edits

Early Mar 2017:         Send out complete draft to advisors

End of Mar 2017:       Submit

April 2017:                 Defend and publish finished PhD dissertation.

 

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Longhouse 3.5.6

Sorry for the delay over the last couple of weeks.  Craig and I were busy with the wonderful 1.0 version of Ryerson University’s B3D Design Conference two Friday’s ago and we’ve both been catching up since the Heritage Toronto event.  B3D proved to be an enlightening set of broad based discussions ranging from Virtual Reality to 3D Printing, however I was really impressed with both the awareness and promotion of virtual archaeology and heritage management.  Very refreshing to see that non-archaeologists/heritage professionals were also valuing the effort and research being engaged around digital visualization and preservation.

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From left to right: Michael Carter, Craig Barr, Athomas Goldberg and Dr. Andrew Nelson

Our session with Athomas Goldberg, Dr. Andrew Nelson and Craig Barr opened up the conference.  Craig  and I were lucky to be able to present one after the other, so that gave me time to talk about the main theoretical themes of the London Charter; Agency, Authority, Authenticity and Transparency as it applied to our project and the larger considerations for visualization of heritage objects.  This helped to frame further discussions during the day when we got into 3D printing and visual representation.  Athomas, who has been very active on the gaming engine scene for over 18 years presented some of the real-time interactive work he did for the “Shattered Adam“/Lombardo’s “Adam”exhibition at the MET.  Andrew talked about his extensive research into the use of 3D scanning of Mummy’s and other recent fine detailed objects.  The notion of “agency” loomed big over our discussion with the audience and the “authenticity” of the 3D scans.  Overall, the session proved as a great starting point for future research as public appetite for 3D visualization and printing has become voracious as of late.

During the conference I had been thinking of Paul Reilly, the “father of virtual archaeology”, and his latest work entitled Additive Archaeology: An Alternative Framework for Recontextualising Archaeological Entities.  Essentially he’s nailed it once again that 3D printing, like 3D visualization in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, will have a profound effect on how heritage is not only researched but preserved.  That our ability to understand the archaeological record through the use of additive manufacturing would extend not only research, but public engagement.

I’ve railed against our misguided notion that digital media will solve everything for years.  My students seemed bemused that I’ve spent so much of my career dealing with digital media, that I’m still harking back to the necessity to have some sort of physical material record for future generations, to discover and research.  The digital world disintegrates so there also needs to be a material copy in order to ensure a record of some sort.  Getting back to Paul’s paper, I realized while sitting through the B3D conference that our Longhouse 3.x would also need more than a digital representation.  Conference papers and book chapters, if deemed worthy research, is one way to enable some preservation.  However, should we also 3D print Longhouse 3.x so that a physical model of the research exists? If we print the model, is it an artefact?  If so, should it be housed within Sustainable Archaeology along with the other Southwestern Ontario archaeological material?  Is there a London Charter 3.0 in which we need to include 3D printing as a means to make physical, our virtual archaeology?

In an effort to remain transparent during all stages of the project, I have provided below my B3D presentation entitled Virtual Archaeology, Virtual Longhouses and “Envisioning the Unseen” within the Archaeological Record.  The audience at the conference was a broad mix of specialists and knowledge experts, so the presentation reflects this.  As discussed, Craig and I broke our presentation out into theory and methodology.

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Many thanks to Claire van Nierop and Ron Williamson from ASI for providing the images I used in the slide deck below of various archaeological sites and excavation plans.  The iconic image of Indian Jones comes from Lucas Film/Paramount Pictures.  The images of Palmira comes from recent on-line news articles from various sources.  Finally, Think2Thing (T2T) provided the images of Craig and I speaking at the conference.

Slide01
Good morning and welcome to the B3D Conference!
Slide02
As much as we love adventure, this is not the reality of archaeology! However, Archaeology is all about the Narrative!
Slide03
Unlike Indiana, real archaeologist work in a relatively quiet and substantially less exciting way looking for signs of material artifacts of human occupation. As this material is “discovered” there is a meticulous scientific recording of every detail from the type of soil it was found in to it’s colour, dimensions and it’s proximity and physical association with other artifacts. Those data points are combined with potential Oral and written histories, anthropological observations of other similar cultures and civilizations to build a narrative of meaning. Thus archaeologists make meaning by creating narratives based on the type of artifacts discovered, the environment in which they were found, similarities to other cultures and the scientific data collected.
Slide04
One of those narrative pain points for Archaeologists studying pre-contact Northern Iroquoian longhouse construction in Canada, is that no structural elements remain in the archaeological record. Unlike the stone structures of Egypt, Greece or Europe, Iroquoian longhouses were made out of wood, which easily decomposes over time. What is left however are “soil stains” of where the wooden posts decomposed or burned within the ground. Locating post hole stains is a challenge, particularly when everything from modern tree roots to collapsed rodent burrows could and are misinterpreted as an actual Longhouse post position. But when we are able to “connect the dots”, a pattern emerges as to the type of structure that was once there. A sea of straws represent where a longhouse might have stood, yet it gives no impression of the magnitude or bearing of the structure itself.
Slide05
In our particular case, visualizing beyond a 2D map or excavation drawing what a massive longhouse city looked like, or understanding anomalies within the archaeological record, are some of the challenges when dealing with structures that have eroded away throughout the centuries. What the archaeological material, longhouse outlines, pole positions, fire hearths, internal burials or hidden artifacts within the perimeter of these once grand cultural embodiments of community don’t convey is the vast immensity of the space these structures occupied or the phenomenological experience of living within one. Like detectives, we must piece together a narrative using the archaeological data. Oral and written histories, present only one of a multitude of interpretations. Longhouses were living, breathing embodiments of not only the close knit families that built and lived in them, but the community and culture as a whole. 3D visualization can bridge and inform archaeologists in ways a flat 2D representations, oral or written history cannot.
Slide06
So, how do we transition from static 2D images, or no images at all to a fully immersed virtual environment? In 2008, a group of virtual archaeology researchers got together to develop what is now called “The London Charter”. In this charter, they laid out the theoretical foundations in which all heritage practitioners should use as best practices when visualizing heritage material. They are: Agency, Authority, Authenticity and Transparency. Agency – The Maori of New Zealand among many other cultural groups worldwide, believe that the spirit that embodies a cultural sacred object extends into photographs or even 3D renderings of that object. Thus when reimagining an artifact in physical or digital form, it’s presence or spirit extends into these new representations and are treated equally as one. Agency also denotes the underlying socio-cultural meaning of the object, place or landscape. Thus care should be taken equally when handling virtual or physical heritage. Authority is when a visualization is so hyper real that the viewer believes the visualization to be an accurate, objective, “historical truth”. Further, that the representation is viewed as a singular and only vision and not one of many possible alternatives. Authenticity is when a visualization is based on quantitative data and that data is used as a base to explore and expand beyond the initial data set. Transparency is ultimately the most important element in digital visualization of any historical object, place or landscape. Transparencies byproduct is called “Paradata”, which represents the steps the archaeologist, artists or the researcher took in determining how the visualization would look and why a particular decision was made, by acknowledging all of the elements that have influenced a particular vision. In following The London Charter, the field of archaeology embarked on visualizing a typical Iroquoian Longhouse, while making public through the means of social media, all of our decisions and rationale.
Slide07
We wanted to reconstruct an Iroquoian Longhouse in virtual reality for a host of reasons. To test the current known data sets to see if what we were recording and researching from the archaeological record, oral and written histories could be representative of a longhouse might have looked like. We wanted to provide a knowledge dissemination process and platform, although primarily for archaeologists, that could be easily accessed by non-archaeologists as well. Further there are larger, very strategic considerations that I will speak about later that this research might help to address. In reconstructing our longhouse, we used years of previously published collected longhouse excavation data from hundreds of archaeological sites in Ontario. That provided a template of dimensions and measurements that could help us visually construct a typical Iroquoian longhouse in 3D. Every detail from the type of rope cordage used, to how the ends of the cut posts, poles and beams would look, and even if there would be hand prints on the poles themselves was discussed and researched through academic papers and the archaeological record. And those decisions, source materials and opinions were recorded on a weekly blog and shared to archaeologists and non-archaeologists through social media.
Slide08
In Longhouse archaeology there are multiple theories of what and how a longhouse looked and was constructed. The models were created in such a way as to allow for experimental changes. We experimented with multiple building techniques and theories, eventually hacking one representative vision of what a Northern Iroquoian Longhouse might look like. What we attempted to do was play with the ability in 3D space to mix and match, creating hybrids through a multivocal lens. Along the way, each decision becomes a learning moment, raising more questions and observations. Thus as we continued building, recording and sharing, this virtual archaeology process transitioned from being evidenced based to evidence informed through a natural progression allowed by the evolution of technology and growth of capabilities, user experience and expectation.
Slide09
The “a-ha” moment was that the virtual reconstruction process not only lent itself to the traditional archaeological narrative process, but created new narratives to explore and tease out. Although the end product was a fabulous 3D visualization of one interpretation of the archaeological material, the real bonus is the ability to for all stakeholders to engage with the archaeological data and material in a way unimaginable only a few years ago. The next phase is to give the participant in this virtual space a sense of “presence”. A phenomenological experience in which all senses from sight, sound, touch and eventually smell and taste are actively engaged. SO WHY DOES THIS MATTER?
Slide10
Archaeology and the artifacts, landscapes and environments today, may not always be around for generations to come. Virtual Reality is one way of preserving these cultural resources. And because of the nature of digital media, we can now share these virtual resources globally, allowing people to experience this precious resource visually, virtually and as we will see later today, physically.
Slide11
However this is only one part of the story. To get to this stage, a partnership between research and technology, knowledge dissemination and artistic wizardry had to take place. This scientific visualization wouldn’t have been possible without the guidance and expertise of a 3D animation professional; my research partner Craig Barr. Before Craig comes on next to continue our story, I would like to quickly thank ASI and Sustainable Archaeology for graciously funding this project and Ryerson for the opportunity to tell you our story. Thank you.

Craig’s presentation took a technological bent, which included an animated visual walkthrough of the longhouse environment on slide 12, which you can see in Longhouse 3.5.5.

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Craig provided a lively presentation on the uses of technology and how the Ocular Rift tool set allowed him to “site inspect” the 3D longhouse model in Maya before sending it over to me for approval.  It was yet another way in which the technology is allowing archaeologists to experience the process from a different perspective and inform how the material culture might be interpreted differently.

Slide01
This discussion will focus more on the practical benefits, rather than on the technical aspects, of the tools available for real-time visualization.   Discuss the benefits of using real-time visualization
Slide02
Research – A virtual experience can be changed or updated based on the latest findings from the field. Different theories or ideas can be experienced and tested rapidly.
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Education – an immersive, interactive and effective tool for teaching, a VR application can be shared and experienced anywhere on the planet.
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Archival/heritage – preservation, collection of data/knowledge. Experiencing data, research, history from anywhere. Access to all.
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Cultural/Socio Impact – A virtual world provides the opportunity to experience a different time, a different place, an opportunity to experience a different culture. (see Edu: global-socio impact)
Slide06
Craig spoke from memory.
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Craig spoke from memory. Image is from the Heritage Toronto event.
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Craig spoke from memory. Images from the Toronto Heritage event.
Slide10
Michael talked about The London Charter and the 4 key aspects: Agency, Authority, Authenticity and Transparency (or Paradata). Here we look at some negatives to be considered in the Visualization process.
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Discuss the potential negatives with 3D visualization: Artistic license Inaccuracies in environment/surroundings Providing a different “feel” or “theme” around the subject at hand Cost/investment
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Virtual Reality provides an entirely world for the creative. Creative Benefits of VR/AR: allowing you to “EXPERIENCE” the design… Evidence Existence Intimacy Actuality VR allows for the discovery of “issues”. Longhouse examples: straps not tied, wood floating, texture issues….things not easily seen in 3D packages. Plug-in for Maya: mOculus.io
Slide13
This is the animated sequence Longhouse 3.5.5.
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Ironically, the caveats are the true key to understanding 3D Visualization’s place in the world. It’s easy to say that it must be clearly defined for what the outcome is to be, but that is the beauty of real-time visualization, the outcome can be deeply informative and surprising. It must be clearly defined what the purpose is. Personally, I’m all for artistic license, creative renderings, conceptual design. It’s my background and a big part of where I have come from. When it comes to visualization for research purposes, whether for scientific, engineering, or archaeological, accuracy to the point of existing knowledge is paramount.

Slide15

 

I hope by providing the slide decks of our presentation that we can transparently demonstrate how the research is being discussed.  By now means is this work finished, but it provides a unique opportunity to see the progression in not only our own thinking, but how the material is also leading into new areas of thought.

As always, comments are welcomed and encouraged.

Cheers,

Michael

 

 

Longhouse 3.5.5

IMG_4566It’s been a whirlwind week here.  Craig, Jamie Kwan and I attended the Heritage Toronto Gala Tuesday night to roll out the first public viewing of Longhouse3.x.  Jamie was my graduate research assistant this year in the Master in Digital Media program here at Ryerson University, who used his architectural training to help visualize the modern interpretation of a 3D longhouse in Longhouse 2.5.  It proved to be a stellar night and full of surprises from a research perspective.  I want to thank Heritage Toronto for the opportunity to present our work and a special thanks to Claire van Nierop and Ron Williamson from ASI for inviting us to be part of their presentation.

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Due to some last minute difficulties we had running the Ocular Rift DK2 on our Alienware Laptop, we switched to a monitor setup with XBox360 controllers for people to use for one station and Craig used his HP Laptop and OR DK2 for our virtual reality experience. Both interaction platforms were well received, but the OR obviously was the favourite choice among the 30+ or so people who participated.

VR_HTGala

We had a wide range of age, genders and Heritage professionals and enthusiasts try the VR experience.  A non scientific observation was that our female participants spent a considerable amount of time within the environment, experiencing and observing all of the aspects of the reimagined longhouse, while our male participants usually donned the VR for it’s “cool” factor and then ran around quickly without taking the time to notice all of the elements within the environment.  As we had older guests and also didn’t know who among our potential visitors might have ocular issues when putting on the headset, we chose to go with a seating position to ensure some stability for those who might encounter balance issues.  Headphones were used to focus the hearing into the virtual space (which was a combination of forest, water, animal and burning fire sounds based on where you were).  The controller was used to move the individual forward or backwards with the head movement dealing primarily with where you would look in VR space.  As one visitor observed, the OR DK2 naturally allowed the Heritage professionals to look up and around, as they would normally do.  One feature we didn’t have was a crouch command to allow people to inspect objects on the ground or below the standard height within the gaming environment.

The video loop above is our latest test of the longhouse within Unity5.  By staging the visualization of items in the longhouse with everyday domestic items such as food and cooking utensils, it started further discussions on potential placement and use of those items within the space.  Additional constraints involved the light and how it would effect shadows and highlights within what would really be a dark environment.  Lastly, Craig had added smoke from all of the fires, but we soon discovered that it really filled the entire space, especially at the 4-5ft level with a dense fog which made it difficult to see the details in the models. We plan to provide a smoke and non-smoke version shortly to demonstrate what it would be like, which would likely be very unpleasant to function in during the long winter months.

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We added items such as cooking tools, pots and bowls (even with liquid in some….boiling to come later) but the placement is completely assumed and somewhat random.  We can easily change position and hopefully in the next couple of iterations we should be able to pick up objects and move them elsewhere.  Craig did a wonderful job replicating the bowls and spoons and we used previously modelled Iroquoian ceramics from the Sustainable Archaeology test in Longhouse 2.2, although we did have to vastly simplify the students models for the gaming environment.

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One of the major issues we encountered was the complexity and detail we had been adding into the environment.  There has been a lot of thought and detail put into every element and along the way we have tried to optimize the digital assets so that real-time play would not be compromised, but it was clear with the test we did at Heritage Toronto that some creative “faking” will need to happen so as to speed things up virtually. This faking method would be to use texture maps instead of models for things such as bark cordage/rope, using more pre-rendered complex images and greatly reducing the polygon count on each of the objects within the scene.

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Another observation was with the outside bark shingles.  They look bright and new and it’s likely that vast amounts of moss and other errant plant material would be growing on the sides, edges and tops of the longhouse.  Rotting of some sort would have taken root as well with the shingles itself and I suspect there would be discolouration due to weathering.  We still need to add the exterior exoskeleton which helps to stabilize and support the shingles.

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This test marks a major stage in the research.  We are fairly close to the final product and will likely be spending the next month or so cleaning up the assets, increasing the speed of the virtual interaction and hopefully providing some user abilities at least in this version for users to pick up objects and possibly interact with the environment more substantially.  As an artist, I crave the hyperreal fully rendered images and sequences, but practically to allow for as many people to engage with the research, a gaming engine is needed and thus that hyperreal look becomes more stylized.

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I would encourage our weekly readers to post comments or send questions through email.  This is how we are learning about new theories, methods and perspectives which only strengthens the projects goals.  Take a spin through the rendered gaming sequence and feel free to comment!

If you are in Midland Ontario this weekend, don’t forget to attend the Ontario Archaeology Societies Symposium – Circles of Interaction: The Wendat and their Neighbours in the Time of Champlain!

Cheers,

Michael

 

 

 

Longhouse 3.4

Craig and I are midway through finishing the exterior and have been preplanning for the additional assets that will be added in order to populate the longhouses. In Film & Television production we call these assets “props”, which act as tools to enhance the emotions or phenomenological experience of the viewer in a particular scene or environment. These assets also help to engage the participant by giving the viewer multiple areas to explore visually and hopefully in our case, through virtual physical interaction.

One of the biggest issues with previous examples of heritage reconstruction within virtual reality has been the clean, sterile environments that are typical of early attempts at 3D. The lack of associated objects which would normally be within a certain context, the dirty, grimy textures of everyday life and the environmental elements such as dust, rain and natural sunlight all play an enormous role that helps convey a narrative whether interactive or not. These visual cues suggest that the reconstruction is just not about the structures itself, but the entire context in which the archaeological landscape lives.

Traditionally a “vision board” or similar technique is used as research for the artists who are visualizing the environment in which the participant viewer will occupy within the 3D space.  Multiple elements are considered and for our purposes I’ve broken those elements down to key areas, everyday living activities and props that will enhance the overall feel as well as generate more research questions. Again the oral histories are scarce and the only substantial historical accounts are from Eurocentric Jesuit Fathers and New World adventurers. Any visuals that exist today are in essence, a romanticized, European visualization of longhouse life. Any visuals that do exist from time of contact are in typical 16th century sketch form and highly stylized and romanticized.

pomeioc1Essentially we will be gleaning imagery that will be interpretations of interpretations, with ours being yet another semi-educated guess based on the archaeological information available and the artistic mindset that we ourselves bring with us.

I would envision a longhouse as being both a massive storage and living area, empty and quiet in the warmer months but heavily populated in the winter. I’m heavily influenced by the movie Black Robe. Although I haven’t seen it in its entirety since the 1990’s but I was struck by the cramped, smokey, grimy and heavily goods and people laden communal living environment the movie portrayed.   One would assume this vision would be close to the normal living conditions as up to 32 or more people could have occupied an 8 bunk or 24m long, longhouse.BlackrobeStarting with the interior rafters, drying supplies such as corn, bark cordage, furs, skins, tobacco, herbs, meat, fish and other goods that the inhabitants didn’t want ground dwelling vermin to attack would be hung in abundance for the long winters storage.

Interior_longhouse_raftersAll the images above are modern (20th Century) artist renditions with the three images on the right hand side actual longhouse reconstructions. I particularly like the top and bottom right images as they really start to convey what the atmosphere of the longhouse environment would be like.

The next vision board was dedicated to the cooking and heating hearths, food supplies and other household items. The images are a mix of Iroquois and Iroquoian replicated goods and longhouse interiors. As far as I can find to date, there are no visual reproductions of Iroquoian goods dating from the 16th-19th Century with only images of 20th Century replicate items.  I should also state that my particular study is in longhouse visual and phenomenological reconstruction and not other areas of Iroquoian life such as ceramics. So I’m going to endeavor to ensure we have Iroquoian examples of pottery modeled and placed within the 3D reconstruction, but if the dates are out on the ceramics we model, please just let me know.

Interior_longhouse_food_fireCorn, squash, nuts, berries and other plants and tubers were part of the Iroquoian diet at different times of the year, with a mixture of fish and game meat making up the daily intake. Cooking those items ranged from a large pot of boiling water or broth to using flat rocks to bake or fry. Roasting spits are usually depicted, but again the histories are scarce on what the cooking areas actually looked like. We assume based on some archaeological excavations that there was a shallow pit, ringed by stones in which embers and slow burning fires were kept. Some suggest there were separate cooking fires away from the heating hearths, however all were roughly aligned down the middle of the longhouse floor.

Interior_longhouse_bark_storageBark and wood was heavily used for storage and cooking utensils. In the image above, these are examples of early 18th Century Iroquoian/Iroquois storage and water containers. Most are made out of pliable birch bark while there are some modern version of what a bark or reed weaved basked might look like. Bowls and spoons were made out of wood. In the rounded vestibules at the entrance of the longhouses there would have been larger bark caskets to hold grains, corn and other items such as apples or squash.

Under the bunks would be the supplies of smaller firewood, with the larger pieces stored in the vestibules. Visually we have to remember that the firewood itself wouldn’t have been cleanly cut as the tools would have still been stone at this point, so I’m envisioning a considerable amount of broken branches, twigs and rotting trunks that would make up the daily supplies of wood fuel.Exterior_longhouse_environmentFor our virtual experience we have chosen to represent one single longhouse and it’s interior. However the exterior longhouse and village environment has to be represented in some manner. The images above again show stylized 20th Century reproductions of Iroquoian villages and environment. Perfect palisades, organized longhouses and clean and green ground throughout the village. I suspect like any well-used environment, grass or organic growth was worn down or non-existent. Plant growth would have occurred in spots where there was less human traffic, such as long the edges of longhouses or out of the direct path from one destination to another. Racks for drying fish and game, skins and furs would have likely populated the area as well as storage, refuse and maybe latrine pits? As we are intentionally limiting access to the broader virtual environment beyond our single longhouse, the sky, tree-line, possible palisade and other dummy longhouses will act as a backdrop for now until we move onto populating the environment with various types of virtual longhouses.

Iroquois_women_workLastly, we have intentionally avoided representing Iroquoian and especially Neutral Native Americans in 3D. Representing and characterizing people from different cultures or even pre-historical times is wrought with problems, especially since any European historical account would be highly racially subjective. Craig and I have talked at length about how to represent the mass of people within a longhouse, without imposing any stereotypes ourselves. One method would be to have greyed anamorphic human characters, with no distinguishing details represent the physical space Iroquoian inhabitants would have occupied within the longhouse. Another option would be to work with the descendent Iroquoian artists and leaders to build characters that would be representative of the peoples of that time similar to what was done for Assassin’s Creed III. However I would like to see a training program developed to allow for Native gamers to build their own stories, characters and environments providing not only 3D assets but a rich set of narrative games based on their own histories, myths and legends.

So as you can see, the assets we intend to use within the virtual longhouse is a mix of modern stylized imagery and a broad set of assumptions on our behalf. However, by attempting to populate what would be a sterile 3D environment with objects, effects and atmospherics, the virtual space becomes more lively, realistic and potentially representative.

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My first draft PhD Proposal

**Update the final approved PhD Proposal can be viewed here**

 

First Draft:

VIRTUAL ARCHAEOLOGY, VIRTUAL LONGHOUSES AND “ENVISIONING THE UNSEEN” WITHIN THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL RECORD

ABSTRACT

In reimagining a 15th century Northern Iroquoian Longhouse within a virtual 3D environment we attempt to address issues of agency, authenticity, authority and most importantly, transparency within virtual heritage reconstructions. Virtual Archaeology and our ability to harness the technology in an applied, innovative and experiential way has allowed scholars, Descendants and the public to “envision the unseen” within the archaeological record. As such, archaeological virtual reconstruction through virtual reality has become a powerful tool in the interpretation of archaeological landscapes and artifacts as a means of knowledge building and meaning making. Thus, Virtual Archaeology is moving from being evidenced based to evidence informed through a natural progression allowed by the evolution of technology and growth of capabilities, user experience and expectation.

INTRODUCTION

In the 1960’s, Ivan Sutherland envisioned a time in the near future in which people would be able to physically enter into an alternative, “digital” world. With the ability to not only see the environment around them, but also the ability to touch, smell, hear and be affected by the environment itself; a unique digital phenomenological experience where the viewer becomes participant and builds on his or her own personal narrative in a non-linear almost life-like virtual experience (see Sutherland 1965).

Within the study and practice of archaeology, we have seen amazing leaps and bounds over the last 20 years in the use of digital technology to inform and scaffold the theories and methods of archaeological research. My proposal is to harness those technologies, theories and methodologies to approach virtual archaeology from a phenomenological perspective in order to empower stakeholders, may they be scholar, Descendent or public within archaeology proper. Dawson, Levy and Lyons called this phenomenological experience presence; “the emotional connectedness of being transported to another time and place” (see Dawson et al. 2011). Although their study group were descendent participants, can this same experience be true for non-descendants as well? Can archaeologist use this technology and methodology in a phenomenological way to envision what isn’t seen in the archaeological record to better inform current and future research (see Watts 2009)?

To situate this research, I propose to virtually reimagine a prototypical Northern Iroquoian longhouse within an interactive virtual 3D environment. Using existing archaeological data gleaned from excavations of Iroquoian longhouses, oral and historical accounts as well as theoretical opinions on longhouse construction methodologies; I will reimagine a 3D Iroquoian Longhouse within a virtual environment. By referencing the known archaeological data, I will attempt to build the longhouse step by step, which will hopefully inform and suggest what challenges and ingenuities Iroquoian builders faced themselves. Once built, I will place this reconstructed model within a virtual delivery platform so that stakeholders, namely heritage professionals, may experience a sense of “presence” within the virtual world. This will be accomplished with the addition of simulated atmospherics such as natural and artificial (fire hearth) light, particle systems that simulate dust, pollen and smoke as well as the addition of natural sounds that would accompany living within these massive architectural marvels. In following The London Charter, a template for working with heritage assets within the virtual environment, I hope to provide a weekly blog that will discuss the insights, challenges and discoveries as I build this virtual longhouse environment. Called “paradate”, this additional information of the process and decisions being made during the 3D assets building and implementation, will allow scholarly engagement and transparency as we continue along the path of virtual simulation.

Lastly, I intend to seek professional opinions from the archaeological community themselves, not only during the building stage through blogs, Twitter or personal outreach, but by allowing heritage professionals to experience the virtual environment first hand. These initial sessions and the reactions and opinions generated will lay the groundwork for future public and Descendent engagements as the project hopefully moves from the research to public deployment stage.

BACKGROUND and CONTEXT

I graduated with an Honours Bachelor in Visual Arts and Archaeology in 1993 and immediately went to work as a “Salvage Archaeologist” on a multi-stratified mitigation site that contained among other eras, a late Iroquoian level, over a 6 month period. During those long hours of labour intensive test pits, bad weather and accidently destroyed post hole stains, I envisioned and yearned for an alternative “computer aided archaeology” predictive methodology to determine longhouse pole placement and positioning. Something that would not only allow researchers to predict where the positions of poles would be but also allow stakeholders (researchers, descendants, the public) to enter in and interact with a 3D “virtual” recreation of a longhouse directly on site using the archaeological data as a starting point.

Paul Reilly had coined the term Virtual Archaeology in 1991 and the use of 3D visualization was starting to take hold in archaeological research and practice. Empowered with a vision to combine my archaeology and visual arts skills for 3D visualization, thus I applied to Sheridan College in 1994 for their Computer Graphics program and upon completion was accepted into their prestigious post-graduate Computer Animation program with the sole goal of learning the technology to enable “Virtual Archaeology of Longhouse Sites”. Unfortunately the practice and use of technology in archaeology was still in its infancy within Ontario and Canadian archaeology, so pressed with a career choice of multiple offers within the new and rapidly expanding 3D Animation and VFX industry or struggling to be heard within archaeology, I chose the latter which propelled me on a twenty year journey as a film and television 3D animation and VFX industry expert.

Virtual Archaeology has now become a highly debated topic that is now contested not only by the stakeholders it tries to serve, but the practitioners of the theories and methodologies who strive to improve academic rigor and the virtual experience for an ever sophisticated, participatory audience. As technology has increased, what was only a dream 20 years ago can now be made into reality. The process of creating virtual archeological landscapes, objects and environments has also become less of a “black art”, allowing for non-artists to engage in designing, developing and deploying more and more sophisticated heritage inspired virtual reconstructions.

The study of Northern Iroquoian longhouses is a mercurial archaeological endeavour. Fragments of these once grand physical manifestations of social, cultural and political agency within the Late Iroquoian phases of the Ontario complex (Birch & Williamson 2013) are little more than “ghosts” below the soil line within the archaeological landscape. Soil stains are all that remain of the supporting posts and exterior walls of these unique cultural buildings representing only a small glimpse into how these dwellings once functioned or even looked.

These soil stains and the cultural material associated in and around the boundaries of these transitory structures, as well as historical Eurocentric writings and drawings and the oral traditions of descendent cultural groups, are what now form our archaeological understandings of the lifecycle of a longhouse, and more importantly, the cultural significance these structures played within Iroquoian life (Woodworth 1998). However, the enigma is that our understanding arising from these data points is imaginatively speculative at best and thus the challenge is to not only visualize these lost cultural manifestations, but also to embody all of the senses that the archaeological landscape cannot preserve; the haptic, olfactory and auditory – in other words the phenomenological (see Watts 2009). The ability to experience the application of sight, sound, smell, and touch in context, helps to embody the overall phenomenological archaeological experience (Dawson et al. 2011) and in turn may provide further understanding to the archaeological record. These are some of the challenges that frame the current debate on what a longhouse is and how it shapes our understanding of the lifeway of the people who thrived within these architectural representations of Iroquoian culture.

PRIOR RESEARCH 

Longhouses occupy a special narrative amongst descendent Iroquoian societies and modern archeologists. An active and engaged oral tradition has given the longhouse a spiritual existence in which the North American modern day longhouse continues to be a powerful symbol of community for those descendent populations, representing an architectural lineage that exemplifies agency and a unique way of life (see Heidenreich 1972; Kapches 1994; Mohawk 1978; O’Gorman 2010; Watts 2009; Woodworth 1998).   At the base level, the longhouse represents community in both physical and metaphysical traditions, embodying the physical to convey societal, cultural and political worldviews (Hayden 1968; Heidenreich 1972; Mohawk 1978; O’Gorman 2010; Ramsden 2009; Varley & Cannon 1994). For Iroquoian culture, the longhouse was a symbol of how the community functioned and was politically structured within their larger world, forming the boundaries of their influence, and symbolic of the longhouse itself (see Allen & Williams-Shuker 1998; Heidenreich 1972; O’Gorman 2010; Mohawk 1978). Though limited physical remnants remain of these structures, they are subjectively alive in the contested colonial writings and descriptions of historical explorers, the oral traditions of cultural descendants and the visual imagination of modern writers and filmmakers (Boyden 2013; Heidenreich 1972; Thwates 1896-1901).

Although the archaeological record reveals several centuries of longhouse and village-like settlement patterns for the Late Woodland, the modern perception of what a longhouse hypothetically looked and felt like is really derived from the latter part of the Late Woodland (sometimes referred to as the Terminal Woodland; see Ferris and Spence 1995), where archaeological and historical data come together to provide a general “convention” for what a longhouse “should be” (Snow 1997; Williamson 2004; Wright 1995). Further, it is these idealized non-native interpretations that continue to reinforce not only the academic but also the public’s notion of what a longhouse was and is (Williamson 2004). It is from these qualitative and quantitative data points that we will explore what a longhouse is physically within the archaeological and historical record.

My understanding of the visualization of longhouses from the archaeological record arises principally from the work of four archaeologists; J.V. Wright, Mima Kapches, Christine Dodd and Dean Snow. Due to the lack of any real physical evidence, models of longhouse use, style, agency, and construction have been hotly contested for decades (see Kapches 1994; Snow 1997; Williamson 2004; Wright 1995). The work of these archaeologists, in combination with continued observations and challenges from other exemplary researchers, form a base of understanding that helps to frame how longhouses were constructed. Using Dodd’s extensive quantitative research gleaned from an exhaustive review of longhouse data derived from field excavations (1984) and based on the qualitative and quantitative observations of Wright (1971), Kapches (1994) and Snow (1997) among others, a basic template for the construction of longhouses emerges. It is this template we seek to replicate virtually.

With rapid advancements in technology, there now exists a cornucopia of progressively successful attempts to engage the archaeological record within virtual reality or virtual archaeology. As with most applications of theory in reality, there too is a split between the qualitative and the quantitative nature of the technology and how it is implemented. Reilly, Barceló, Frischer and others see the digital tools, the process and the outcomes as part and parcel of the quantitative, scientific nature of archaeological research; data that should be represented by and through scientific means. Dawson, Levy, Lyons and Forte, see virtual archaeology as a phenomenological emotional experience in which the participant isn’t a passive viewer, but an equal partner in the exploration of the multivocal archaeological landscape. Where the data, material culture and the visual (re)imagination of the archaeological environment are engaged through the users eyes.

The transformative nature of technology and in particular our ability to manipulate digital data freely, whether visual or not, has given form to a multivocal approach to the interpretation of the archaeological record (Forte 2011, 2014a, 2014b). Following Hodder, Forte sees multivocal engagement within virtual archaeology as the ability to allow for multiple voices to engage and contribute to the overall interpretation of the virtual archaeological environment (2008; 2011, 2014a, 2014b). This authentic multivocal experience can lead to new research questions and hypotheses, disrupting the notion of the archaeologist as the interpreter of the “truth” (Earl 2013; Forte 2014b). As (digital) archaeologists, we are no longer the singular authoritative voice, but providers of material and assets in which stakeholders and the public themselves can construct and reimagine their own cultural presence within virtual space (see Earl 2013 & Perry 2014; Dasgupta 2006; Forte 2011 & 2014b).

Virtual reality by definition is an interpretation of self within a different space, time or plane (see Sutherland 1965). It is narrative generating and thus both the technology and the process of creating virtual reality have borrowed heavily from the entertainment industry (see Frankland and Earl 2011 and Denard 2012). In doing so, by taking a creative approach to the interpretation of the archaeological data, the agency of that data is now layered upon and seen through the creators lens; what “artist’s impression” intend the virtual space to convey (see Earl 2013; Frankland and Earl 2011; Frischer et al. 2000; Moser and Smiles 2008; Perry 2015).

The digital reproduction of objects, landscapes and narratives have agency both in the real and virtual worlds and as such must be treated with equal consideration and respect (Earl 2013; Forte 2014a; Huggett 2012a, 2015; Pauketat and Alt 2005; Richardson 2013; Robb 2010). Virtual archaeology is moving from being evidenced based to evidence informed through a natural progression allowed by the evolution of technology and growth of capabilities, user experience and expectation.

Technology is at the point where we can provide an almost hyper-real experience to the participant viewer, may they be scholar, descendant or the public (Frankland and Earl 2011; Forte 2014a; Gabellone et al. 2013; Giddings 2015; Morgan 2009; Moser and Smiles 2008). Further, that same technology allows the particpant to interpret and modify the objects and material being displayed/provided, giving them the ability to reorder, reinterpret or remix at will (Fisher and Twiss-Garrity 2007; Frankland and Earl 2011). These are the machinations that now loom over virtual archaeology.

The London Charter has provided practitioners with a set of guidelines which attempt an assurance of authenticity and authority over Digital (virtual) archaeology (Denard 2012; Gabellone et al. 2013). Dawson, Levy and Lyons provide one example of how participants can obtain presence within a virtual archaeological landscape, as well as demonstrating that the foundations of The London Charter can be implemented effectively to maintain rigorous archaeological authority over the virtual material being provided. Our challenge is providing archaeological data to non-archaeologists in ways that are recognizable as visualizations and virtual experiences.

RESEARCH QUESTION(S) 

# 1

What is a longhouse? What data and assumptions within archaeological, historical, and oral traditions go into informing our understanding of what an ancestral northern Iroquoian “longhouse” was and is? What are the challenges and opportunities these divergent lines of evidence present to our efforts to build, engage, and research this form of habitation within virtual contexts?

#2

How has virtual reality been used in archaeology and heritage studies and what might be achievable in the future considering current and upcoming technological advances. How can virtual reconstructions facilitate transformative and innovative research in archaeology?

#3

Ancient, immersive archaeological landscapes and settings can provide audiences with a real sense of being in a place and space; but these are only approximations based on interpretation, supposition, and artistic license. How are issues of authenticity addressed, or not, when developing virtual spaces, and what are some of the main issues when immersive representations are presented as, or assumed to be, authentic? Should intended and unintended audiences only experience virtual representations of the past passively, or should they be able to engage with and challenge the context they explore against what “feels” right to them, whether they are scholar, Descendant or public?

GOALS

We have seen with Dawson, Levy and Lyons that an embodied experience for descendent stakeholders is not only empowering to the participant but beneficial to the archaeologist in unlocking unintended knowledge that further enriches the archaeological record (2011). That digital reproduction of objects, landscapes and narratives do have agency both in the real and virtual worlds and as such must be treated with equal consideration and respect (Earl 2013; Forte 2014b; Huggett 2012a, 2015; Pauketat and Alt 2005; Richardson 2013; Robb 2010). As such virtual archaeology is moving from being evidenced based to evidence informed through a natural progression allowed by the evolution of technology and growth of capabilities, user experience and expectation.

By using the archaeological record as it pertains to the physicality of longhouse construction and use, we are able to envision the unseen. Many cultural, economic, societal and environmental factors help to inform this inquiry, however my desire and goal is to develop both a theoretical and virtual model of the fundamental features of a longhouse that is the manifestation of the dynamic archeological landscape, oral and written histories as well as the creative imagination of the artists and technicians who will ultimately be tasked with digitally reimagining these elusive, iconic and culturally significant architectural symbols of the Northern Iroquoian existence (Watts 2009; Woodworth 1998).

Lastly, archaeological virtual reconstruction through virtual reality has become a powerful tool in the interpretation of archaeological landscapes and artifacts as a means of knowledge building and meaning making (see Dallas 2009, Earl 2013, Forte 2014a & 2014b, Huggett 2013 & Perry 2014). It has become a “mediating tool” allowing researchers to experiment with the data and to tease out the tensions that arise from a multivocal environment (see Dallas 2009 & Earl 2013). These alternate visions help to “stimulate interpretation” creating multi-channeled narratives which spur on additional and unforeseen research questions (Earl 2013). As such, what is apparent is that the practice/study/craft has transcended beyond the internal realm of archaeological study to be fully accepted externally as representative of archaeological studies without it really establishing itself as an accepted cannon of archaeological research (see Earl 2013 & Perry 2014).

METHODS

A strong theoretical foundation of my research will reflect elements such as agency, authority, authenticity and transparency as it is relates to virtual archaeology and archaeology in general. Using reflexivity and critical testing, I hope to understand and demonstrate the application of phenomenology, virtual reality and virtual archaeology to facilitate transformative and innovative research within Iroquoian archaeology, providing a template for future use and deployment within other fields of archaeological study.

My research will be informed by and include theoretical elements from Dawson, Levy and Lyons (phenomenology and presence), Reilly, Barceló, Frischer, Forte, Dallas, Huggett, Gillings (virtual archaeology) and Watts, Ferris, Robb, Frankland, Earl, Perry, Gosden, Denard (agency, authenticity, authority and transparency) among others.

My project will incorporate existing academic literature, research and data as it pertains to the knowledge in the construction methodologies and visualizations of Northern Iroquoian Longhouses primarily influenced by Dodd, Kapches, Wright, Snow and Williamson among others in the field.

I will test my hypothesis by engaging with the archaeological and heritage community to participate and engage with the project in a contextual manner, so as to measure their level of interest in using these techniques in their own areas of specialization and interest. To further determine if these methodologies meet the academic rigor while also providing an informed, innovative and experiential application of archaeological research and community engagement.

TIMELINE AND FUNDING

Year 1: Literature review and research on Northern Iroquoian Longhouse use and construction, the previous and current uses of Virtual Archaeology within archaeological discord and the theoretical and methodological concerns of the representation of heritage material and landscapes within virtual environments.

Year 2: Review and research the application of virtual reality production and virtual reality platforms suited to a robust, interactive and phenomenological multivocal virtual archaeological experience. This will also include gap-filling research on areas of concentration in Year 1 and the development of a “paradata” methodology to allow for the transparent engagement with the research process.

Year 3: The recruitment of computer animation knowledge experts, the development, creation and application of 3D assets, the decision and implementation of a virtual reality delivery platform and consolidation and the analysis of the final virtual reality experience by members of the archaeological community.

As I am a part-time PhD student, I am ineligible for research funding. However, as the full-time administrative Director of a graduate program in Digital Media at the Ryerson University, I have access to the technological hardware and software resources needed in the design, development and deployment of a virtual reality project. Further, this project is being generously funded by the Dr. Neal Ferris from the Museum of Ontario Archaeology/Sustainable Archaeology and Dr. Ron Williamson from Archaeological Services Inc. to allow for the hiring of artistic and technical specialists.

CONCLUSION / IMPLICATIONS, IMPACT AND DISSEMINATION

I am proposing to design, develop and implement a method for the visualization of archaeological data and speculative academic insight within virtual archaeological environments. That this method is grounded in the theories that have formed around the study of virtual archaeology, specifically: agency, authenticity, authority and transparency. In doing so, by using an area of personal interest, I hope to build upon the continued work of Dodd, Wright, Kapches and Snow with regards to Northern Iroquoian longhouse construction and use.

The potential implications of this project could entail the lack of sufficient archaeological, oral and historical data to effectively visualize a Northern Iroquoian longhouse. As such, academic and artistic license as well as time and cost of production will be required to enable only one potential visual interpretation. That the intended technology cannot delivery the virtual effect intended or that the artistic or technical talent required is either unavailable or beyond the scope of my personal skills.

The impact of this study could be substantial. Apart from the pioneering phenomenological work done by Dawson, Levy and Lyons, current research has indicated that no other project is attempting to phenomenologically recreate a 3D virtual Iroquoian Longhouse to the level and sophistication usually reserved for high-end gaming or film production. Further, following the recent development of The London Charter, this project will endeavor to develop a body of transparent knowledge, which is community based and encourages debate and opinion throughout the visualization process. Lastly this project will impact and contribute to the ongoing research and debate on virtual archaeology, it’s application, use and substantial contribution to the study and discipline of archaeology.

This project will be disseminated in multiple forms. The 3D virtual environment and all assets will be made available as an open source tool for the continued use by scholars, Descendants and the public. The accompanying blog and Twitter feeds will provide an ongoing deployment of “paradata” to support the development of continued debate and development of the virtual environment. A conference paper will be proposed and it is my intention to publish on the findings of this work.

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Longhouse 2.0

Longhouse 2.0 started as a joint project between Dr. Neal Ferris at Sustainable Archaeology (SA) and theskonkworks (SKW) to explore the possibilities of developing a mass scanning pipeline for 3D artifacts in the summer of 2012.  Working with Namir Ahmed, a Master’s student in Archaeology at UWO and someone with previous animation and archaeology expertise, this project was one of the first MITACS granted research initiatives to combine industry and archaeological research needs.  The project was two fold in its application; to work with animation students who understood the technology but not the content and to use existing Film & Television techniques to develop a mass scanning pipeline.

SAScanTeamThe project recruited 10 Loyalist College Animation Program Co-Op students to intern at Sustainable Archaeology for a 14 week period.  The students were all in their last year of studies and as such had a good working knowledge of 3D animation techniques, tools and basic pipelines.  SA provided the equipment which consisted of several variants of professional 3D scanners and SKW provide production management, pipeline expertise and 3D animation equipment and software.

The research team proved to be highly successful in not only being able to demonstrate that Archaeologists and Animators could effectively and quickly work together on very complex systems and data, but that the SA facility when properly provisioned, could easily scan over 100 artifacts per week.  The pipeline itself consisted of developing protocols for tools specific to the artifacts sizes, complexity and surface quality as well a the practical application of data acquisition, lighting, mesh integration and texture mapping.  3D3 solutions, a technology supplier, produced a case study which outlined the process (case-study-SAAU-3D3Solutions-final).

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This study proved to be quite valuable in understanding the scanning needs of artifacts and how to both manage the data and the expectations and limitations of the technology.  Our research also spawned a paper for World Archaeology entitled Sustainable archaeology through progressive assembly 3D digitization. However, prior to starting our 3D scanning pipeline research, the students started warming up with an ancillary project in which they would apply standard Film & TV development techniques to replicated a longhouse in rendered 3D space, which became the start of the phenomenological gaming research into user engagement within extant archaeological landscapes.  Thus Longhouse 2.1 began as an exercise to engage the students within the archaeological record.