This presentation explores issues related to the use of digital facsimiles of cultural heritage, in museums. In an era of ‘heritage at risk’, digital reproduction provides us with access to cultural sites and objects that may otherwise be irrevocably lost. Recent debates also describe how digital copies form part of the trajectory of any object’s cultural career. Analogously, documentation of intangible heritage practices gives us opportunities to examine embodied knowledge systems and to explore their transmission through time. Nonetheless, digital facsimiles continue to occupy an uneasy space within museums whereby their artful materialities—intangible, reproducible and transmissible—pose a threat to institutionalized claims of uniqueness and authenticity. By focusing on a series of experimental new media installations for museums, this talk re-examines the possible futures for digital modelling of intangible and tangible heritage in exhibitions where issues of authenticity and interpretation are at stake.
Professor Sarah Kenderdine researches at the forefront of interactive and immersive experiences for galleries, libraries, archives and museums. In widely exhibited installation works, she has amalgamated cultural heritage with new media art practice, especially in the realms of interactive cinema, augmented reality and embodied narrative. She is considered a pioneer in the field digital heritage, digital museology, digital humanities and data visualisation and is a regular keynote speaker at related forums internationally. In addition to her exhibition work she conceives and designs large-scale immersive visualisation systems for public audiences, industry and researchers. Since 1991 Sarah had authored numerous scholarly articles and six books. She has produced 80 exhibitions and installations for museums worldwide including a museum complex in India and received a number of major international awards for this work. In 2017, Sarah was appointed Professor of Digital Museology at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland where she has built a new laboratory for experimental museology (eM+), exploring the convergence of aesthetic practice, visual analytics and cultural data. She is also Director and lead curator of EPFL’s new art/science initiative, inaugurated in 2016 as ArtLab.