Specialists from 45 countries will be in Granada this week to discuss the combination of new technologies and cultural heritage
This week Granada is a stage for debate on the future of the conservation and effective promotion of our cultural heritage. Over 600 experts from 45 countries will be analysing the various benefits of the combination between the latest new modern technologies and our ancient cultural heritage. The Rector of the University of Granada, Pilar Aranda, the Director of the Council of the Alhambra and Generalife, Reynaldo Fernández, and the Subdirector-General of the Institute of Cultural Heritage, Alfonso Muñoz Cosme, all attended the opening ceremony of Digital Heritage 2015, an International Congress which this year enters its second edition.
From today until next Friday, the discussion will be centring on the possibilities offered by new technology for the conservation, preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage. In her speech welcoming the delegates, the Rector highlighted the importance for the University of Granada of this Congress given that “as the University is located in a city with a wealth of cultural assets, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of the preservation and dissemination of our heritage as a source of wealth and above all as a cultural symbol of identity in a strongly globalized world; in this sense this Congress is a very important event”. In the troubled times in which we live, “a knowledge of heritage can be a means of building bridges of understanding between cultures and can help us understand the societies that created them better”, the Rector of Granada University added.
In his speech, Reynaldo Fernández, the Director of the Council of the Alhambra and Generalife emphasized how interested the Alhambra is in new technologies. “The Alhambra is highly receptive to the use of new technologies in the heritage field”. Fernández announced that the Alhambra is carrying out serious research in this field. He said that at the Congress itself, the institution he represents is participating among other things in exhibiting a pioneer experience known as the tag cloud, “an application that will enable users to access personalized multimedia guides”. In general he concluded that “the Alhambra is working, as one might expect, to take on and benefit from the technological challenges of the 21st century”.
Digital Heritage first began in 2013, promoted by the UNESCO and since then has been staging the most important scientific assemblies in this field. On this occasion the University of Granada is organizing a conference which seeks to be the most important meeting in the world on this subject. One of the novel features of this Congress is that a large temporary exhibition in a space measuring 1000 m² has been organized alongside it showing real experiences in the field of new technologies and Heritage. The exhibition (http://www.digitalheritage2015.org/digital-heritage-expo-program/) can be seen at the Granada Science Park, where most of the scientific sessions of the Congress will also be taking place.
After the official inauguration the Congress itself began with a lecture by Guy Berthiaume, the Executive Director of Archives and Libraries of Canada. For Berthiaume, “digital heritage blends the technological aspect of communication with the human face of conservation. Heritage and new technologies are inextricably linked. There can be no other way”.
Together with the University of Granada, the Congress is being organized by the Spanish Society of Virtual Archaeology and the International Virtual Archaeology Network. The Congress also enjoys the collaboration of the Council of the Alhambra and the Generalife, the Museum of the Memory of Andalusia and Granada City Council. The first edition of this Congress took place in Marseille in 2013.
Digital Heritage 2015 is aimed at specialists in the application of information and communication technologies to cultural heritage and to this end welcomes professionals from both technical and arts backgrounds. According to Juan Carlos Torres, Professor at the Department of Computer Systems and Languages at the University of Granada and the person responsible for organizing this Congress “in the process of selection of the different subjects we will be debating in Granada this week we tried to keep a reasonable balance between the two backgrounds, trying to achieve the necessary synergies and the right blend between humanities and science in the heritage field”.
For Torres, “The aim of the Congress is to promote the sustainability and dissemination of heritage, which is important for Granada, a city with a series of important actions in this field”. For this reason, as well as the Science Museum, there will also be sessions at the Alhambra and in the Museum of the Memory of Andalusia.
Torres went on to explain that the Congress has been structured around five main topics of interest: digitalization and data acquisition; infographics and interaction; analysis and interpretation of data; theory, methodologies, conservation and standards and finally projects and applications for cultural heritage.
Digital Heritage 2015 has several interesting and original aspects. Firstly, the way it gathers the field together in a “congress of congresses”, as it combines at a single event a set of otherwise dispersed scientific meetings and events that take place in the field of the application of new technologies to heritage. The programme (available at http://www.digitalheritage2015.org/programme) includes specialists such as the Canadian historian and Executive Director of the Archives and Libraries of Canada, Guy Berthiame; Marco de Niet, Director of Digital Heritage Netherlands or Sofia Perscarin, archaeologist and researcher at the Institute of Technologies applied to Cultural Heritage at the National Research Centre in Rome (Italy). The institutions represented – universities, research institutes, companies, etc. come from all over the world.
The second differentiating feature of Digital Heritage 2015 is that it sets out to be a venue for the exhibition of the latest discoveries in this field. In fact, the Digital Heritage Expo is the biggest exhibition ever staged in the digital heritage field with an area of over 1,000 square metres, in which both participants in the Congress and the general public can find out about cultural heritage and digital technology projects. The exhibition is divided into eight different themes: Interpreting our past; Protecting and promoting our heritage at risk; In search of a path to the past; Acquisition and reproduction of heritage; Experiencing the past; Immersion in the past; Digital libraries and, lastly, Audiovisual animations. This exhibition curated by Sofia Pescarin will show real examples of preservation and dissemination. The visitor may observe for example interactive virtual recreations of the Maya city of Calakmul, simulations of traditional Korean architecture, examples of virtual museums or the virtual model used in the restoration of the Fountain of the Lions in the Alhambra.
The Congress online:
The Exhibition online:
Contents and images from the projects: http://www.digitalheritage2015.org/digital-heritage-expo-program/