Friday, December 10, 2010

Capturing personal and shared spaces with explorable gigapixel imagery.

An abstract proposal for a session in the upcoming Personal Archiving conference, Feb 24-25, at the Internet Archive in San Francisco.

See this extended version of this content.

I am currently working on highlighting particularly relevant examples. For example, here
are gigapans of the Inoperable art gallery in Vienna.

The Poster For Tomorrow project had an exhibit 'The Pencil is mightier' which was in 24 locations world wide to celebrate Global Human Rights Day, December 10th 2009.  It included a display of posters by the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna, and I GigaPanned some of the posters - I wanted to go back and capture more images, but the exhibit was up for a limited time.  I guess that illustrates the importance of capturing context of transient events!

Here is how the Long Now museum looked about three years ago.

The Monochrom office is almost the perfect example of a space in continuous transition, brimming with details which can be missed by any but the closest examination.

Here are images from the exhibit "Fifty years of Italian Fashion" from December 2009 in the MuseumsQuartier in Vienna.

We seldom document the places where we work. Maybe a few photos, but most of us have few records of the places we spend so much of our time. Here is what the Global Connections Lab looked like right before we moved. This is where the Gigapan was developed, including a gigapan of gigapans - prototypes and beta units.

The abstract:

Explorable images, GigaPans, allow us to capture details of the spaces in which we live our lives in ways which are currently lost.

The world is the stage upon which we live our lives, the studio or workshop where we allow our imaginations to erupt into physical or virtual form, and the museum where we keep the artifacts which we have gathered as evidence of our existence.

And we attempt to capture that experience of space. We take pictures, we write diaries, take videos, but all of these forms lose the key context of our spaces. In many ways we live our lives the way a museum exhibit or a piece of theatre is created, viewed, and cleared away.

A well curated museum exhibit or a finely directed theatrical work create physical, emotional, and cognitive spaces where an audience is able to expand their minds, and experience reality in new ways.

But a curated exhibit or a theatrical extravaganza are transitory experiences. After an exhibit is over, or the curtain falls, there are a few artifacts left behind: a museum catalog, posters, reviews, some photographs, perhaps a web site, or a video. But ultimately the artifacts are returned to their permanent homes, the walls are repainted, the set is struck, and the space becomes again a blank canvas, an empty stage, a tablula rosa ready for the next show.

Most of these forms of archiving our experiences: of life or museumship or theatre lose the context required to make sense of the whole. A museum catalog may have images of every piece in an exhibit, but it loses the context of the full creation. And a photograph catches just the smallest bit of our experience.

Using explorable gigapixel images we can capture more detail about a space, and the context of that space. In this talk I will present a number of examples of GigaPan images used to capture more or less transient spaces, from museum and art gallery exhibits, to work spaces, and temporary events. I will also offer a suggested starting point for a conversation about developing best practices for capturing explorable images which show the context of the spaces in which we live.

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