Some of the most notable heritages are registered on the UNESCO list of endangered goods. Currently, more than 54 sites are listed (see here). But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of others, or even more, less well-known, are waiting wisely for a quasi-programmed death. Architecture, painting, sculpture, all, without exception, have a story to tell, a memory to share, a technical feat to be discovered. But at the moment, there is nothing to reference them, nor to know the history precisely. The Temple of Wat Pho Chai in northeastern Thailand, the monasteries of the David Gareji site in southeastern Georgia, the wood-framed houses of Alsace, the Byzantine churches of Albania, the abandoned palaces of Northern India, some Cambodian temples unknown to the public (Yes, they too) or the petroglyphs and pre-Hispanic paths of Colombia; all have at least two common points: they are in a state of advanced degradation and are doomed to disappear, under the actions of man and nature, if nothing is done.
But what to do?
Current technologies allow us to store images and data in memory. We use them as we use paper and pen. Now, let’s be honest, after reading your book, what do you do with it? Personally, I put it back in my library and I move on to the next. However, technologies offer us opportunities that we would not have imagined a few years ago. So why not push the limits a little further by using them to save these heritages?
Two concepts are available to us, and are probably the keys to a successful process: participation – we just have to see the success of collaborative and participatory platforms like Wikipedia – and virtual reality. The combination of these two functionalities allows us to open horizons still little or not explored and to imagine issues to the safeguarding of the goods at risk.
But before you discover the world that I am trying to set up and share with you, imagine yourself in a box. You have neither door nor window. Your space is restricted. You have no way to communicate with the outside. Not very engaging, is it?
Your box matches the 3D model you have rendered. You have integrated your data and improved it to make it readable. But your model is no longer evolving. You’re frozen. So you decide to move on to the next project. Case closed!
Let’s imagine now that, by the greatest of hazards, a hammer is near you (nice coincidence, isn’t it). You decide to drill a first opening. After some effort, a first ray of light enters your box. You finally opened a first window to the outside. You lean and discover that a whole environment surrounds your box. Many passers-by, approaching and beginning to exchange with you. They share their knowledge, their perceptions of the place. You can finally get an idea of the environment. This little box, which you thought then to be finished, takes on another dimension.
You decide, depending on the information that has been entrusted to you, to move the furniture that clutded the space. You change the place and push the walls back. This small box changes its appearance and evolves progressively. You gradually slide towards an alternative reality.
Your model is getting closer and closer to reality (without ever really achieving it). So you want to continue the experiment and for that you decide to develop a data recovery tool. This tool will allow the elaboration of a complete knowledge base, generated by each of us (public, tourists, family, foreign or independent laboratories, institutions…). The beta model (basic model), often identified by Photogrammetry and laser, will enrich itself to generate a new image, a new alternative, in a rich world. A second life of heritage, a world of possible or a place (I said place and not server) reconfiguration of the goods.
From there, there are many possibilities available to us… travel in unfamiliar places, travel in time, train, access information in real time, test, rebuild, pursue research and perhaps even touch and feel the environment… I will also explain how the tool will work and how you can contribute to it. But patience is another story…
Image credit (banner): ScanPyramid, which I invite you to discover currently in Paris citedelarchitecture.fr