Willem Beex

(BEEX / RMO (National Museum Leiden))

In this paper I will try to show and explain why it is not only possible, but also very necessary to keep most of the creation of Virtual Reality (VR) in our own hands. I will also try to show common problems in the scientific creation of VR. And as such, the aim of this paper is to bring the discussion on the use of VR for Archaeology and Heritage from the basic level: “How to create the most beautiful image?”, onto the next level: “Why should we, and how can we incorporate VR into our science?”.
It is my impression that the possibilities of VR are by no means fully understood in our scientific community. Even if we look at the main use nowadays, in which we try to recreate (visualize) our ideas about the past into a recognizable form. And I dare to say that the opposite might be even worse. In using VR to see if those of our current ideas, depending on the shape of landscapes, buildings and structures are possible.
I order to demonstrate this, I will use real examples from recent times, including among others the reconstruction of a Renaissance Villa in Vlaardingen (owned by the “Man in the Golden Costume” on the painting “The Nightwatch” by Rembrandt), the prehistoric landscape of Norwich, a Tell in Syria, and a Twelfth Century farmstead in Nederweert. As it is imperative to show “live” examples with real questions and demands, in stead of optimised demo’s.
This paper is not intended to give the complete answer on the question “how and why should we use VR?”, as we are only at the beginning. But I hope it will give everyone a solid basis for further implementations.