NomadIT Conference Suite

TAG2010: 32nd annual meeting of the Theoretical Archaeology Group

Bristol, 17th-19th Dec 2010

(S36)

CASPAR session: audio-visual practice-as-research in archaeology

Location Merchant Venturer's 1.11
Date and Start Time 18 Dec, 2010 at 09:00

Organisers

Greg Bailey (UOB) email
Andrew Gardner (UCL) email
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Short Abstract

In this session, the Centre for Audio-Visual Study and Practice of Archaeology (CASPAR) brings together current archaeological practice-as-research and investigates the interplay between screen-based technologies and archaeological knowledge.

Long Abstract

Practice-as-research has had a significant impact on UK research cultures across higher education and arts sectors since the mid-1990s. Arguably, Cornelius Holtorf's 1998 hypermedia history of megaliths was the first practice-based PhD in archaeology: it explored the potential of then-new CD-Rom technology to present different ways of telling archaeology. Since then, a growing number of practitioner-researchers have begun to draw upon the histories and practices of film, video and new media in order to consider the ways in which media produce specific archaeological forms.

In this session, the Centre for Audio-Visual Study and Practice of Archaeology (CASPAR) brings together current archaeological practice-as-research and investigates the interplay between screen-based technologies and archaeological knowledge to think through some of the implications of Friedrich Kittler's announcement that 'media determine our situation, which - in spite or because of - deserves a description' (1999, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter). The session will investigate moving image practices as they create archaeological materials and subjectivities. These practices include archaeo-landscape reconstructions in computer games, computer-aided visualisation, the televisual familiarity of Time Team graphics and the conventions of documentary film and TV. Established and emerging methods and technologies can aim to: record, preserve, and reconstruct archaeological artefacts and landscapes; present archaeological site interpretations; model change and resilience; and represent scientific archaeological knowledges. This session focuses on practice to explore how technologies of the virtual materialise specific and often messy sciences (John Law, 2004, After Method: Mess in Social Science Research, Routledge), which in turn frame archaeological possibilities.

This session is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Digital archaeology at the British Museum

Author: Daniel Pett (The British Museum)  email
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Short Abstract

The department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure at the British Museum publishes archaeological data found by the general public online. This paper will demonstrate what data is available and what innovative methods have been employed and also what other digital initiatives the British Museum is involved in.

Long Abstract

Since 2003, the author of this paper has been responsible for the provision of the Department of Portable Antiquities and Treasure's digital technology. The PAS now has the largest digital archive of archaeological small finds data available publicly. The new website re-launched in early 2010, has employed a wide array of innovative digital techniques to aid the dissemination of these data. This paper will outline what has been implemented and how this archive can benefit researchers in a wide variety of archaeological research areas; from archaeological geomatics to artefact typologies and numismatic studies.

It will also demonstrate that building these resources can be achieved on a very limited budget and can to what extent this type of archaeological dissemination can penetrate into the public psyche via data sharing methods and manipulation of search and media organisations.

The paper will also discuss digital advances that the British Museum has been involved with since the re-launch of their site in 2007 and will touch upon the highly successful "A history of the world" collaboration with the BBC.

Public archaeology in a digital age: 2010

Author: Lorna Richardson (UCL)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper will examine the current state of engagement with digital and social media in public and community archaeology in the UK in 2010

Long Abstract

This paper will examine the use of digital and social media in public and community archaeology in the UK, looking at the use of websites, Facebook, Twitter, photo management sites, social forums, Second Life, YouTube and similar online film management sites. It will examine where we are today in archaeology - 'a state of the nation' for 2010. It will briefly discuss what direction the internet could take archaeology in 2011 and beyond, and look at some of the restraints that prevent widespread adoption of the internet as a medium for the promotion of archaeology to wider web audiences.

Multiview 3D reconstruction, public display and Weymouth's Viking mass burial

Author: Joseph Reeves (Oxford Archaeology)  email
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Short Abstract

Multiview 3D reconstruction is the by which a full 3D model is derived from a series of overlapping images. This paper presents the recording, 3D reconstruction and presentation of Weymouth's Viking mass burial by Oxford Archaeology. Open tools and methods enables this technique to be used by all.

Long Abstract

In June and July 2009, during work to proceed the Weymouth Relief Road, Oxford Archaeology excavated a mass grave on the crest of the Dorset Ridgeway: 51 decapitated Viking skulls had been placed in a pile in a disused quarry pit approximately 8 m in diameter and their associated bodies had been discarded haphazardly in another area of the same pit.

The grave was the primary find of the excavation and contained nothing more than the human remains; as such it was important, complex and well photographed. This provided the opportunity to develop a method of "bonus" multiview-3D reconstruction from the existing archaeological archive and to produce models and animations that were presented via a variety of media. This paper describes the process of using readily available Computer Vision techniques and routinely produced photographic records to construct a detailed and accurate 3D model without significant cost or time overhead.

Oxford Archaeology intends to improve upon the technique and to release the necessary software in a convenient package. By doing so we hope to promote a widespread adoption of 3D reconstruction in a manner more sustainable than previous offerings. This paper details the balance between practical considerations of rapid 3D practice and the intended purpose of produced results with reference to Dorset's unfortunate Scandinavian visitors.

The Motion in Place Project: interim results and emerging questions

Authors: Stuart Dunn (King's College London)  email
Sally Jane Norman (University of Sussex)  email
Leon Barker (Sussex University)  email
Kirk Woolford (University of Sussex)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper presents interim outcomes of a project to examine the application of motion capture in archaeological fieldwork. This illustrates both how motion capture data can be linked with archaeological information, and how it can enable reconstruction of material culture.

Long Abstract

The Motion in Place Platform Project (MiPP) is a collaborative project whose principal aim is to investigate the application of motion capture technologies outside the studio. One such application is the practice of reconstruction of material culture in archaeology, and in the study of archaeological practice itself. MiPP has had the opportunity to collaborate with the team at the Roman town site excavation at Hampshire, and this paper will focus on the epistemological questions that applying motion capture in this context have raised. Two motion capture approaches were implemented: in the summer field season of 2010, excavators at Silchester were equipped with motion capture suits developed by Animazoo, a Brighton-based specialist hardware company, and over 2½ hours of activity were captured. The paper will present this material, and explore a) its potential as a teaching and demonstration tool, and b) outline the significant questions that have arisen in linking this quantitative motion data with the quantitative archaeological data produced by the excavation. Secondly, the paper will present the results of an exercise in recreating a section of the town, the Early Roman and Iron Age structures in the southwest corner of the trench, in a motion capture studio. As well as further exploration of the questions of how 'conventional' archaeological data can be used to enable such reconstruction, the paper will present how, by capturing human interaction with it, the use of motion capture allows archaeologists to illustrate and explore agentive intervention in the creation of material culture.

Stilton Rolling and Hadrian's Wall: using Augmented Reality to explore past perception

Author: Stuart Eve (UCL)  email
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Short Abstract

Archaeology has been a fore-runner in the attempt to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to address the challenges of recreating perception and social behaviour within a computer environment.This paper discusses how an Augmented Reality approach can not only add to the current narratives about Hadrian's Wall, but also to contribute to the ongoing debates in archaeological theory about present and past perceptual and experiential engagement.

Long Abstract

Archaeology has been a fore-runner in the attempt to use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to address the challenges of recreating perception and social behaviour within a computer environment. However, these approaches have traditionally been very much based on the visual aspect of perception and analysis has usually been confined to the computer laboratory. In contrast, the latest archaeological theories and methods involving phenomenological analysis of landscapes and past environments are normally carried out within the landscape itself and computer analysis away from the landscape in question is often seen as anathema to such approaches. The importance of the embodied experience to any discussion of past people cannot be overstated. My research aims to bridge this gap by using an Augmented Reality (AR) approach. AR gives us the opportunity to merge the real world with virtual elements, including 3D models, soundscapes and social media. In this way, the results of desk-based GIS analysis can be experienced directly within the field, and phenomenological analysis can be undertaken using an embodied GIS. This paper discusses how an Augmented Reality approach can not only add to the current narratives about Hadrian's Wall, but also to contribute to the ongoing debates in archaeological theory about present and past perceptual and experiential engagement.

Machinima and virtually embodied archaeological research

Author: Colleen Morgan (University of York)  email
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Short Abstract

In Fall of 2009, the OKAPI team created archaeological machinima featuring students acting as the Neolithic residents of Çatalhöyük. This virtual embodiment of past peoples confused modern social boundaries of student and professor, archaeological subject and object, artifice and artifact.

Long Abstract

OKAPI Island in Second Life has been the site of archaeological research at the University of California, Berkeley since 2007. During this time the island has hosted lectures, film festivals, tours, educational outreach, and archaeological reconstructions created by a team of undergraduate and graduate students. In Fall of 2009, the OKAPI team pushed boundaries in interpretation and filmmaking by making archaeological machinima (movies made entirely within virtual worlds), the actor/avatars wearing the "skins" of the Neolithic residents of Çatalhöyük, a 9,000 year old tell site in Turkey. This virtual embodiment of past peoples confused modern social boundaries of student and professor, archaeological subject and object, artifice and artifact.

In a session bringing together practice and research within audio-visual representations of archaeological sites, this presentation will explore the profound discomfort, complications, and surprising insights that come with navigating archaeological "fact" and fiction through embodied storytelling in a virtual world.

Archaeology as a television parlour game: a historical analysis of ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?’

Author: Pamela Jane Smith (McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research )  email
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Short Abstract

None provided.

Long Abstract

How do images of objects reflect, construct or consolidate disciplinary development? How might objects and their visual images fashion scientific identity? In this paper, I attempt to answer these questions by interrogating a specific case study. Did the iconic, legendary, mythologized British palour game, quiz show ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?’ affect the development and transformation of British archaeology in the 1950s? My analysis is based on an extensive study of correspondence, reports, written audience reviews, personal notes, diaries and newspaper clippings saved in the BBC Written Archives in Reading and in Professor Glyn Daniel’s St John’s College archives. It is also based on oral-historical interviews. There is evidence that museums made special displays and benefited in attendance and that the AVM? spectacularly raised the general awareness of archaeology as a British profession. However, there is no clear evidence that the development or trajectory of academic archaeology was affected at all.

Archaeological viewing by archaeological museum visitors: analysis of consumption practices and 'most satisfying' experiences

Author: Chiara Bonacchi (UCL)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper presents a joint analysis of consumption practices and ‘most satisfying’ experiences of archaeological viewing for a statistically significant sample of visitors to the Museum of London, London.

Long Abstract

This paper will present initial results from the author's doctoral research, which examines current trends and future directions of the communication of archaeology in the UK through permanent museum galleries, exhibitions and television programmes, in relation to the wider media scene.

The increasing phenomena of convergence and new media penetration are drastically re-shaping media and communication. Production and distribution processes, audiences and consumption behaviours are rapidly changing, but the modalities of these changes and their implications for the communication of archaeology remain to a large extent unclear.

In order to make sense of this fluid environment, the first necessary step is to examine how archaeology is being 'consumed' by the public through the media.

This paper will therefore discuss both consumption practices and 'most satisfying' experiences of television archaeology for a statistically significant sample of visitors to the Museum of London, London. It will contribute to illuminate the degree to which museum and television audiences of archaeology overlap and it will detail respondents' practices of archaeological viewing (e.g. through what devices? In what measure, compared to other types of media consumption of archaeology? ).

Finally, it will examine the television experiences of archaeology that were found 'most satisfying' by specific segments of the audience considered, indicating what were the programmes that provided them, what types of experiences were found 'most satisfying' and why.

Visualisation in Archaeology (VIA)

Author: Sara Perry (University of York)  email
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Short Abstract

Reflecting on the three-year Visualisation in Archaeology project, this paper probes the themes and tensions that continue to simmer beneath the surface of archaeological image-based research and practice.

Long Abstract

In the three years since its launch, the Visualisation in Archaeology project (www.viarch.org.uk) has seen the involvement of upwards of 100 practitioners from 17 countries, representing disciplines across the arts, social sciences and humanities. Emerging from more than a half century of critical visual theorising in these fields, VIA has aimed to tease out an intellectual framework for future archaeological image-based research and practice, and thus begin to articulate a strategy for capacity-building and visual competency development in the academic and professional communities. This paper aims to highlight some of the themes and tensions that have marked VIA's evolution, and to speak to several of the media that have often been absent or under-scrutinised within the project's programme. The making and application of visual outputs in archaeology is intimately linked to disciplinary knowledge creation, yet even within the context of VIA itself these processes can go unseen. Anticipating VIA's culminating conference in April 2011, I intend here not to simply summarise the project's progress to date, but rather to open it up to another forum for debate and judicious consideration.

Contemporary film-making and the Stonehenge art ban

Author: Helen Wickstead (Kingston University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper uses contemporary film-art to reflect on the politics of heritage and the wider meanings of recent events at Stonehenge.

Long Abstract

I examine two films created by visual artists Janet Hodgson and Pil and Galia Kollectiv produced in response to recent excavations at Stonehenge. These artworks explore the architecture of time through film, and the relationships among science, work and ritual. During the making of Pil and Galia Kollectiv's film an unexpected controversy blew up. Before the resolution of this controversy, English Heritage banned contemporary artists from working at Stonehenge. I reflect on the wider meaning of the art ban; asking why film art, in particular, challenges authoritative heritage discourse.

Fake documentaries, mockumentaries, and the practice of subverting archaeological reality

Author: Ruth Tringham (University of California, Berkeley)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper explores the nature of alternative genres for archaeological films in the face of the apparent need for reality and authenticity in archaeological visual representation. The exploration is carried out through my own experiment to remediate in film the fake documentary film Forgotten Silver.

Long Abstract

This paper is prompted by our call for films of alternative genres (albeit only 3 mins long) at TAG 2010. It explores the nature of alternative genres for archaeological films in the face of the apparent need for reality and authenticity in archaeological visual representation. The paper focuses on the subversion of the traditional documentary revealed in fake documentaries and mockumentaries. It takes as a starting point Alisa Lebow's statement in F is for Phony (edited by A.Juhasz and J.Lerner, 2006) "if the direct gaze can reveal nothing of the Real, then it follows that the satirical…… look of at least some mockumentaries may just create the proper context to catch a glimpse of the Real" and Angela Piccini's suggestion in Archaeology and the Media (edited by T.Clack and M. Brittain, 2007) that "…the juxtaposition of images and sound - when divorced from the idea of linear narrative - might just link us briefly with the Real". The exploration of subversive film/video about the past and those who investigate it is carried out through my own experiment to remediate in film the fake documentary film Forgotten Silver by Peter Jackson and Costa Botes.

This session is closed to new paper proposals.