Monika Keenan (She / Her)
I am originally from Australia, though before moving to Glasgow I travelled extensively and spent the last seven years living in Germany.
After focussing on the history of conservation of the built heritage in my previous MA at the Humboldt University in Berlin, I was excited to complement my knowledge by pursuing skills in digital heritage.
I am interested in the possibilities for Augmented and Virtual Reality in the heritage sector, and the implications of digital technologies for tourism, monument protection and representation, and public engagement with historic environments and history itself.
My dissertation project addressed some of the issues that arise in the use of digital technologies in heritage interpretation, such as the accessibility of these technologies for people who do not possess the technical skills or equipment required, as well as people who may face cognitive or physical barriers to engaging with digital heritage.
Transparent Augmented Reality Display – Dissertation Project
For this project I developed a static, transparent Augmented Reality (AR) display device.
AR has particular affordances in the field of cultural heritage. It can facilitate engagement by allowing users to view or interact with heritage sites or objects that may be fragile, or may even no longer exist. In this way AR can help to re-contextualise heritage. However, inclusive design must be a priority to ensure physical and cognitive access to digital heritage.
For my dissertation project, I designed and constructed a transparent display device and created an installation of digital visualisations. I used the Jordanhill Cross at Govan Old Parish Church as a case study to demonstrate this technique. The Jordanhill Cross is an example of an Early Medieval standing cross, though only the base remains. However, a replica of the Jordanhill Cross stands outside Govan Old and has been completed with a cross head to show what the cross may have looked like.
Using photogrammetry, I created a digital model of the Jordanhill Cross. The moss was cleaned off the model and the carvings were reconstructed. Then the cross head was digitally coloured. I produced several versions of the digital model, one monochrome and two polychrome, to highlight the speculative and subjective nature of many heritage visualisations. The three versions of the cross head were then combined in a short animation.
These visualisations were displayed on the AR device on site at Govan Old Parish Church, through which the existing stone base is still visible, to re-contextualise hypothetical historical possibilities. Though I chose to use digital colourisations for this project, this was only one option. The device could be used to show possible versions of the design of the cross head, possible carvings, or even possible changes to the cross over time.
This device allows multiple viewers to experience a mixed reality installation simultaneously, as well as removes barriers to access such as technical illiteracy or the cost of device ownership.
Virtual Reality Cave Painting
This is a VR application which allows a user to make their own cave painting.
Using Unity and Oculus Quest, I made a short VR experience. When calibrated correctly, the wall on which the user can paint handprints corresponds to a physical wall in the real world. This means that when the user reaches out and touches a wall, they leave a handprint.
The VR application uses the atmospheric lighting from the burning fires, as well as the sound of drumming within the cave to heighten the visceral experience.
Aligning a physical wall with the virtual wall of the cave also helps to incorporate the physical world into the virtual experience and improve embodiment.
The VR experience was also just a lot of fun!
The Many Lives of a Sunstone
The Many Lives of a Sunstone is a short film about the Sunstone, one of the Govan Stones. The film is the product of a group project. Each group member was responsible for different elements in the production, though the script was co-written and all group members were involved in data capture and processing using photogrammetry, laser scanning and RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging).
We approached our project by looking at the idea of memory, the passing of time, transience and the multiple lives the stone has led. The narrative embodies the notion of an object’s biography. There is humour and emotion in the existentialism expressed in the story of the stone.
I used Unity to create atmospheric scenes within the church and churchyard. These scenes employ laser scan data of Govan Old in the form of point clouds, as well as photogrammetric models of the three standing cross-shafts. I used animation techniques to show the changing landscape of Govan and the development of the cemetery as it appears in the present day. Together with another student, we combined footage of the RTI data with animation to depict the passing of time, which was a novel way to incorporate RTI data in a creative output.
This Unity game was created with a partner, Chloe Mcmahon, and demonstrates how digital technology might be used in the heritage sector.
The game deals with Roman mosaics and operates in two phases. It is set in the ruins of an ancient Roman domus. The first phase is a search-and-find phase in which the user searches around the environment, moving rocks and broken fragments of the ruins, and collects the missing fragments of the floor mosaic, which are added to their inventory. With each piece the user gets some information about this topic, such as where great examples of mosaics can be seen and how they were made. After collecting all the missing pieces, the user can move on to the second phase, a puzzle assembly phase. Here the user picks up and rotates each piece and places it in the correct spot.
The game reflects an archaeological process through the two phases, as the user must first find and then reassemble the mosaic, learning as they go, as in a real archaeological context. We created a a simple but engaging game targeting a young audience that could be utilised by museums or heritage organisations to facilitate learning. We used music, lighting and the design of the game environment to evoke the sense of rediscovering something previously lost to time.