(Züricher Hochschule der Künste, Zürich, Switzerland)

Keywords: interactive simulation, looking into the past, storytelling

For my bachelor’s degree in Scientific Visualization I created an interactive archaeological reconstruction telling the story of a medieval secular building, the «Papenhof», located in the town of Barth, in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. The goal was to allow the viewer to immerse into a time travel simulation with the help of virtual reality and to present the exciting history of the Papenhof in a five-minute experience with simple interactions, voice-over, environmental sounds and a concise plot.
Using the head-mounted display, the challenge was to work with different aspects of virtual reality such as immersion, realism, and sound and to merge everything into a stand-alone application for both experienced and non-experienced VR users. Some of the questions were: How can the user gently be introduced into the virtual world without confusion and discomfort? Which navigation technique (keyboard/mouse/controller/gaze) should be used? How can the learning phase of controlling the simulation be kept as short as possible? What should be the storyline and how can it be told interesting enough to keep the viewer focused?
Because of their realism, digital reconstructions often tend to give the impression of absolute certainty. As virtual reality is still a very young medium, there was an opportunity to investigate new standards of the depiction of hypotheses. Thanks to new narrative structures it was possible to clearly state what was certain and what not.

Relevance conference | Relevance session:
Aiming to catch the digital natives attention in archeology by making use of “their” technologies.

The use of virtual reality and storytelling to give the viewer/museums visitor/layperson the feeling of the space from the past centuries.