Authenticity through VR-based documentation of cultural heritage. A theoretical approach based on conservation and documentation practices

Jesús Muñoz Morcillo, Franziska Schaaf, Ralf H. Schneider, Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha


The visualization of 3D reconstructed artifacts often requires significant computing resources. The implementation of an object in  a  virtual  reality  (VR)  application  even necessitates the  reduction  of  the polygonal  mesh.  Consequently,  the communication and dissemination of “authentic” 3D reconstructions via immersive VR technologies has been a nearly impossible  feat for  many  researchers. However,  is the  issue really  computing resources,  or is it rather  the notion  of authenticity in an “auratic” sense, i.e., an excessive focus on physical evidence and survey data? In the present paper, we will discuss the authenticity requirements for virtual archaeology as set by the Seville Principles(2011), and we will analyse some limitations related to the current approaches. Furthermore, we will propose a pluralistic notion based on the contextualization of 3D objects in VR environments with synesthetic (i.e. multisensory) information. This new notion of authenticity  relies  on  conservation meanings rather than  physical  features.  In line  with  this  approach,  two  case studies will be commented: the multimodal 3D-documentation of the Jupiter Column(2AD) in Ladenburg, and the VR-based  re-enactment of  a  modern  work  of  art,  the  audio-kinetic  sculpture Kaleidophonic  Dog(1967)  by  Stephan  von Huene. These two projects provide valuable data for a revision of the notion of authenticity in both virtual archaeology and art conservation.


Virtual reality (VR); Virtual archaeology; Kaleidophonic dog; Jupiter column; Synesthetic documentation; Progressive authenticities

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