Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Try 2: Capturing personal and shared spaces with explorable gigapixel imagery.

(This is an extension of the abstract for a proposed session in the
upcoming Personal Archiving conference, Feb 24-25, at the Internet Archive in San Francisco. This is a work in progress, which I intend to extend)

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.

(I split the post because there are numerous embedded GigaPans and I don't want them crashing my regular blog)

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.

INOBERAbLE is 'the premier space' in Vienna promoting and exposing
Urban Art forms, such as Street Art, Graffiti, Poster Art, Tattoo Art, and Lowbrow."

What happens at the Gallery? Shows are put up, and art sold, or not, and shows are taken down.
Here is what the gallery looked like in December 2009
Inoperable art gallery in Vienna.

You can pan and zoom on that link and see things about the space.  See things about the positioning of the pieces which is now lost. There may be other pictures of the gallery during that show, but the context is lost.

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 our 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 one part of our experience.

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.

One day there was an exhibit of posters, and the next day it was gone. It had been wiped clean, and only the empty pavement was left. Poster For Tomorrow has the original posters, and some of them are now in the permanent collections of museums, but the context of the exhibit in Vienna is gone.

Using explorable gigapixel images we can capture more detail about a space, and the context of that space.

In January of 2008 I took Gigapans of the Long Now Museum.

The last time I talked with folks at the Long Now they had either changed the museum, or they were planning to change the exhibit. But there is inevitable irony in anything which the Long Now Foundation does which involves the past or the future. The whole idea of the Long Now Foundation (at least, the idea that got me to donate money and time) is mostly to serve as a way to have discussions about time which transcend the present. Or perhaps which simply extend our idea of 'Now' to past and future.

Except perhaps only 'future' is on the official agenda... The Clock of the Long Now, a clock intended to keep time for 10,000 years, a clock intended to 'tolerate neglect but reward attention" (in Danny Hillis' words) is less a practical artifact to me than an expression of an intent to work towards a world in which thinking about a future 10,000 years from now does not seem absurd.

I grew up in the Bay Area, doing 'duck and cover' drills, where we hid under our desks and pretended that we might survive a nuclear attack. Many of my cohort developed a bit of a nihilistic streak. We lived in a place which had intentionally hid it's past, and where a future was far from certain.

How different an experience to live in Europe!

Rupertkirche, St. Rupert's, the (currently claimed) oldest church in Vienna. dates to perhaps 800 AD. It holds the sarcophagus of a Christian Martyr, and the church is right by where the Gestapo headquarters was. So there is an added emotional weight to the commemoration of martyrdom. And then you can walk 10-15 minutes, maybe less, and be at the Monument Against War and Fascism.

All bridges between past and present. And erupting outside of the center of Vienna into the 21st century.

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.

And history keeps moving, fashion, which seems at first glance ahistoric, has deep roots.
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 this gigapan of gigapans - prototypes and beta units.

No comments:

Post a Comment