170912 Westin & Almevik: "Virtual dioramas as spaces of inquiry"
From Jon Svensson on October 4th, 2018
The first part of our presentation discusses an in-depth re-examination and activation of Hemse stave church. The early Gotlandic stave churches were commissioned by magnates and used within family or closer community. These were later transformed into or replaced by the parish churches that emerged during the late 12th century with Christian institutionalisation of society. The replacement of wooden staves by stonewalls manifesting this societal transformation is a well-established narrative on the history of early medieval churches, adduced far beyond the island of Gotland. However, the common interpretations of the stave churches bypass the buildings as something tangible for people. What affordances did these early wooden churches built by magnates provide for their users? How did the process of communalisation impact on the physical space? The research is grounded on documentation and interpretation of remains and archival records, as well as previous archaeological research. The objective is to visualise plausible interpretations of both the architectural properties and the transformation of the building as a social space during its life course. The talk focuses on the sensuous aspects of the stave church as a whole – where architecture, artefacts, light, and materials interact – through the movements of approaching, entering and dwelling. To explore these aspects, an interactive model is produced from which previous reconstructions and hypotheses, and our own evidence based interpretations, are staged and discussed. Hence, we approach the act of reconstruction with a desideratum to explore a turn from being an inviolable visualisation to an open-ended simulation process. The aim is to establish the building as a tangible place and to bring together history, building and society.
In the second part of the presentation we discuss the Arosenius project and a contextualisation of material pertaining to the artist's home in Älvängen. Presented is an interactive reconstruction that can be used both as an access-point to the life of Ivar Arosenius and his art, and as a repository. Built on a source material consisting of archival photos, local stories and historic maps, paintings, 3d-scanned artefacts, sound recordings, and inventories of both the belongings of the artist and his family, and of the vegetation on his lands, the digital construction is a knowledge-model containing all the material pertaining to this part of the artists’ life. As such, of central interest for the study is how to communicate interpretative practices to the user, balancing an incomplete source material with the need to create a space that can inspire affect. Just as the archive contains a translation of Arosenius’ home, first into documents and files, and later, when digitized, into bits, the reconstruction of Arosenius’ home is a translation of bits into context. It is an investigation into both the limits of the archive view, that which the archive lets us perceive, and the product of activating and giving depth to the archive by bringing it together with the site of its origin.
In our two studies, we frame the act of digitally reconstructing a site as an iterative research method of investigation and translation between different media, that allows a disparate material to be collected, studied, and processed simultaneously.