Special session on Interpretation, Visualization and Archiving for Intangible Heritage at VSMM 2016

A special session on interpretation, visualization and archiving for intangible heritage (IVIAH) was held as part of the 22nd International Conference on Virtual Systems & Multimedia (VSMM) 2016, at Sunway University in Kuala Lumpur, between 17 and 21 October 2016. This session was organised by DIHA in collaboration with NODEM (Nordic Digital Excellence in Museums) and the Centre for Research-Creation in Digital Media (CRCDM). Below are the abstracts of the presentations.

Watch this space! Links to full papers and presentations will be provided later.

Chair: Dr. Halina Gottlieb


Children of Mon Mot – documentation of a tira legend of the Abui community (Eastern Indonesia)

František Kratochvíl, Benidiktus Delpada, Rachel Siao and Xiao Yan Ng

In pre-literate societies, oral tradition is anchored in the landscape, linking it with its inhabitants. The first part of this paper details the documentation of a legend of the Abui community of Alor, Eastern Indonesia. It describes the relationship of the legend with landscape and its functions in the community. We recorded the first version of the legend of the Giant Snake Mon Mot in the community of Tifolafeng in 2003. We combined linguistic, anthropological, geographic, and historical methods with fine arts resulting in a multi- faceted documentation for diverse audience. We have created a range materials from illustrated books, games, to a film documentary, made the raw data available. In the second part of the paper, we lay out our strategy for integration of mechanics of telling and listening, and the mnemotechnic structure of oral tradition with the digital humanities. We also address the need of systematic research into the response of the community, which our approach allows.

Keywords: digital humanities, oral tradition, documentary, community involvement, digital landscape


Digital Archiving for Interdisciplinary Knowledge Transfer in Intangible Heritage

Hedren Sum

“Exploring the crossroads of linguistic diversity: language contact in Southeast Asia” is an interdisciplinary project with a disparate team of 11 researchers from linguistics, art, design and media. A range of digital assets in different formats, including publications, films and datasets, were created from the fieldwork and research done. Using this project as a case study, this paper seeks to explore an approach on how digital assets from an interdisciplinary research project can be captured, preserved and (re)presented in a form of a digital archive. It results in a digital archive with dedicated views for each type of digital asset to meet specific viewing needs. It also used a modular design approach to achieve flexibility and meet the knowledge transfer objectives of the research project.

Keywords: digital archive, knowledge transfer, interdisciplinary research, intangible heritage


Tracking the change in the intangible discourse of people and landscape through language

Francesco Cavallaro and Bee Chin Ng

For those who have travelled to Bali, they will be instantly struck by the charm and beauty of the network of rice terraces and water temples that dot the island. A popular and compelling image of Bali is a verdant rice terrace with resplendently dressed and smiling Balinese in the foreground. It is evocative of a timeless world where nature is untouched and is safely nestled in the customs and traditions of the place. The term “Cultural Landscape” has been used often to describe this utopian scene as it is widely held and understood that the survival of the landscape is intertwined with the survival of the “culture”. Stepping out of the tourist brochures, the reality is sobering. This paper will discuss the metaphorical as well as

This paper will discuss the metaphorical as well as literal discourse of people and landscape in Bali. Bali, as in all countries in the developing world, is caught in the flux of accelerated globalization and change. While this is expected and unpreventable and has brought positive influences to the local residents, it has also left damaging and indelible marks on Balinese lifestyles and landscapes.

However, this is not to negate the commonly shared perception that Bali is indeed beautiful. In fact, it was declared a World Heritage Site in 2014. Recognizing the uniqueness of the landscape which is integrally dependent on the practice of a cooperative system for farmers known as Subak within the community, UNESCO has this to say about the Subak system in Bali:

“The subak reflects the philosophical concept of Tri Hita Karana, which brings together the realms of the spirit, the human world and nature. This philosophy was born of the cultural exchange between Bali and India over the past 2,000 years and has shaped the landscape of Bali. The subak system of democratic and egalitarian farming practices has enabled the Balinese to become the most prolific rice growers in the archipelago despite the challenge of supporting a dense population.” (Cultural Landscape of the Bali Province, 2016) The subak system is still in practice today and members of a subak meet regularly to discuss the sharing of water and resources, a vital ingredient in the survival of the system. A feature within the subak that is of particular interest to this research is the language used in the meetings. Balinese, the language indigenous to the population is a hierarchical language with several registers that clearly mark the position and status of the participants in any speech event. These differences are marked in lexical choice as well as structure, and competence in one register does not necessarily imply competence in another register. There are several categorizations of Balinese speech levels (Suastra 1995) but there is a general consensus on three commonly recognizable speech styles, Basa Alus (high), Basa Madia (middle) and Basa Kasar (low). The use of these speech levels is socially regulated as the communities are stratified in terms of castes and traditional roles. However, as indicated by Suastra (1995) social change and the insertion of new languages such as Indonesian and English have added many complicated layers to the use of these speech levels.

Lansing (1994) referred to the absence of Basa Alus (high) speech level as a feature in subak meetings. Presumably, this is because the successful negotiation of water rights is dependent on equal access to knowledge and information. In essence, the maintenance of the subak, and in turn, the landscape is also tied to the liberalization of linguistic practice. This interesting observation has not been attested by any independent study. The purpose of this study is to document this phenomenon and to track its practice in the last two decades. Using an ethnographic approach, we compared audio and video data collected from subak meetings in 1995 (courtesy of Stephen Lansing) and 2014. The recordings consisted of 2 hours of naturalistic data. These recordings were transcribed and analyzed to look at how the different languages (Balinese and Indonesian) were used in subak meetings. The linguistic practices in these meetings were analysed using the framework set out by De Fina (2015). Generally, the findings point towards changes in the society that are reflected in the language use in these meetings. We will identify the types of changes and transformations and discuss the significance of these changes in relation to the ‘traditional Bali’ in popular imagination. Our evaluations will look at what is at stake and how language can be a sensitive barometer to look at the intangible forces impacting on society.

Keywords: Bali, Intangible heritage, Subak, Balinese, Speech levels, Ethnography, Linguistic practices


Intertextuality: Tracing Meanings through Textiles

Galina Mihaleva

The concept of intertextuality was introduced and first used in the publication, “Word, Dialogue, and Novel” by Julia Kristeva in the 1960s. Kristeva proposed text as “an intersection of textual surfaces rather than a point (a fixed meaning), as a dialogue among several writings” (Friedman, 1991). She emphasized that text should not be understood as self-contained systems but rather as traces or tracing of meaning shaped by repetition and transformation of other textual structures (Alfaro, 1996). Over the years, scholars have further explored the concept and frequently used it as a metaphor (Lara-Rallo, 2009). In textiles, intertextuality can be viewed as the process of weaving, crossing the warp with the woof, webbing, like a cross between old tapestry or new cloth, not simply by itself but inter, between and across time and space (Cunningham, 2005).

The paper reflects on the concept of intertextuality through the findings gathered from a field study conducted at the Abui tribe in Takpala, a village off Alor, Indonesia in 2015. This field study was part of a grant-funded interdisciplinary research project in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore. Working together with linguists from NTU, observations were made on how the Abui people created textiles using traditional weaving techniques and tools. Oral interviews held with them have provided insights on how textiles are connected to their everyday life and language. Deeper conversational exchanges also revealed some of the stories and meanings that are inter-weaved into the textiles using symbols and patterns. The paper reviews the traditional techniques and discusses the findings from the study.

Next, leveraging on Kristeva’s concept of intertextuality as the basis, an interactive exhibit was designed to communicate the Abui culture (language, stories and weaving) through textiles and technology. Findings from the field study were weaved into and performed through the exhibit. Video footages showing traditional Abui weaving were projected onto Abui textiles from an “interactive lamp” powered by a Raspberry Pi unit, mini projector and circuit board. Conductive thread and fabric were sewn into the Abui textile to allow user interaction with the video content and the textile itself. The interactive exhibit was showcased at four different locations in Singapore and overseas. The paper explains the concept and components of the interactive exhibit. It also discusses the reactions and observations made on how audiences interact with the exhibit before concluding.

Keywords: intertextuality, textiles, interactivity

Chair: Dr. Ng Bee Chin


“Le geste retrouvé” a 3D storytelling of stone tools

Laura Longo

The paper deals with an innovative approach to the identification and characterization of function on grinding stones used to processed plant in order to get staple food at the dawn of modern humans colonization of Eurasia. The items are part of the archaeological and anthropological collections of the Kunstkamera Museum in S. Petersburg (Russia). The first achievements is “bringing to life” museum collection forgotten since “long time” (excavations dates back to the early XX century) by using innovative, non invasive analytical techniques like the potential contribution of 3D investigation, at various levels of detail and resolution, to the identification of such traces and residues. The second goal is the reconstruction of ancient dietary habits of humans at a crucial stage of human evolution. The third purpose is to demonstrate how present diseases related to food might find interesting explanation by investigating the roots of dietary breadth within museum archaeological collection. The reconstruction of old gestures and the related behavior by means of cultural heritage study can contribute to place museum collections under differ light, playing an actual social role. The paper is reporting functional analysis demonstrating compound technologies related to the systematic use of grinding stones in order to process plant resources since the Aurignacian (early Upper Palaeolithic).

The issue of processing plants like USOs, fruits and seeds, to get highly energetic staple food might be of interest in seeking for behavioural strategies carried out by Anatomically Modern Humans during the first waves of Europe colonization. Analysing the stone tools comes be one of the direct investigations on behavioural modernity of the new species with evident positive feed-backs on their nutritional capacity and hence on the demographic performance.

The functional analysis includes wear-traces, experimental reproduction and residues analysis of the working surfaces of the grinding tools. Portable scientific equipment – brought in by the Cyprus Institute team – had been used for noninvasive, non-destructive analytical techniques, a laser-scanner for 3D measurement of the micro-topography, and a digital microscope for investigation of microscopic traces. The identification and description of use-wear traces was carried out by means of the innovative application to wear-traces analysis of the combined potential of the Digital Microscope (Hirox KH-8700) and Electron Scanning Microscope (SEM, FESEM). Both lower magnification stereomicroscope (macro MX-G 5040 Z) and metallographic microscope (OL – 140 II) optics and functions were used during museum selection of the samples.

Keywords: Collections, Microscope, 3D Digital storytelling


Evaluation Study of a Snack Box for Children Designed to Prompt Discussion about Natural Heritage at Museums

Laura Gottlieb and Xinglin Sun

Using food in a museum café to engage visitors with its content is a relatively unexplored area for museums. A specially designed snack box could create a suitable context for discussion about natural heritage for school children in museum settings. The prototype Snackbox was designed and produced for children with the aim to teach them about a natural history topic. An evaluation study of the Snackbox consisting of four group sessions with children (age 6) was conducted together with a session facilitator at a preschool. The study looked at whether a) the learning activity in the snack box stimulated discussion about the chosen natural heritage topic. b) the activity needed a facilitator to drive the discussion and engage the children with the topic. Lastly, it looked at the benefits and limitations of using food in combination with a learning activity. The Snackbox created a social environment for the children to discuss the questions and answers of the learning activity. The facilitator played an important role in bringing focus to the natural heritage during the discussion.

Keywords: evaluation study, prototype design, natural heritage, natural history museum, museum café


Between scents and memory: three exhibition design case studies experimenting with the olfactory dimension

Laura Miotto

Olfactory experiences are powerful triggers of personal memories and can play an important role in connecting audiences to intangible heritage. This is recognized by museums seeking to move beyond the dominant visuocentric exhibition paradigm, broadening the spectrum of sensorial stimuli on offer. However, the delivery of olfactory experiences in a museum presents important and unique challenges, largely related to the odorant’s physical nature, which impose constraints to the design of experiences that can reach the visitor with impact and efficacy. Here, we present an olfactory delivery device designed to address these issues, which was prototyped and implemented over a 10-year period as an integral element of a display dedicated to the culinary heritage of Singapore. The device was also utilized in two other exhibitions, with radically different purposes: in one case as an element of the indigenous natural and cultural heritage, and in the other as a comparison tool to provide an intuitive illustration of progress. The diverse subject matters covered, and the different approaches to the delivery of olfactory stimuli demonstrate the versatility of the olfactory device in a range of exhibit settings. The case studies presented indicate that olfactory experiences can be effectively integrated in local museums, but their inclusion demands additional processes and specific consideration. Growing interest in this area of exhibition design, consistent with a global trend to transform museums into multisensory environments, makes this an important field for further research.

Keywords: Olfaction, Museum, Exhibition design, Intangible heritage, Memory


Mapping the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Ethnic Communities: Designing an Interactive Cultural History of Koreatown

Dr. Kristy H.A. Kang

This paper presents the interactive online cultural history “The Seoul of Los Angeles: Contested Identities and Transnationalism in Immigrant Space” (http://seoulofla.com/). Informed by interaction design and urban studies, this project examines and visualizes the sociocultural networks shaping immigrant communities and how local neighborhoods negotiate a sense of place within an increasingly globalized space. Geographer Doreen Massey recognizes space not as a static entity but as the product of interrelations from the immensity of the global to the intimately tiny. These interrelations are part of a story, an interpreted history that changes and develops over time. One could recognize cultural heritage in a similar way – as dynamic and part of a narrative trajectory that is not merely frozen in a romanticized or essentialist past. Much of what constitutes the dynamics of ethnic community formation is intangible as it is largely a lived experience rather than one that is necessarily documented or archived. As such, this project serves as a digital archive and platform for community storytelling that enriches our understanding of the city and the often intangible narratives that create a sense of place.

Currently, Los Angeles has the largest population of Koreans in the United States living outside of Korea. Nicknamed the “L.A. district of Seoul City”, most visitors understand Koreatown as an extension of Seoul. But, what most people may not know is that the majority of inhabitants who comprise its residential and working class population are not Korean, but Latino. The everyday space of this community is inhabited by a mix of immigrants coming from Mexico, Central and South America, and other parts of Asia including Bangladesh. These networks of nationalisms converge in the urban space of Koreatown. This contests predominant conceptions of ethnic enclaves being understood as homogenous and makes us re-imagine what we think we understand about them–they are increasingly becoming polycentric in complex ways.

Combining design, documentary and issues in contemporary media studies including global/local relations, ethnic and urban studies, this work uses new media and mapping to create greater awareness of our built environment and the peoples who populate it. Mapping is a dynamic system that changes according to the shifts in culture and community that characterize any geographic place. How can this system be visualized in order to read a space with newly informed imaginations? What kind of urban interfaces could be designed to communicate with the spaces we move through and what overlooked stories could be uncovered in order to enrich our understanding of cities and the intangible cultural histories embedded in them? Such questions are explored in this project.

Keywords: interactive, cultural history, ethnicity, urban studies, mapping, koreatown, los angeles


New Media Interactive Design in Museum Exhibits

Danyun Liu

As the notion of museum education develops, the exhibition in museum is gradually separated from the original single, static and fixed display form that simply highlights the exhibited objects and transforms to vivid, interesting and diverse exhibition form. By making use of instructive education that integrates active participation, experience cooperation and game playing, that is, creating interesting experience for audience by concentrating on the theme or applying various new media approaches to show collected and exhibited objects, it changes the relationship between the museum and audience – “being viewed” and “viewing”. It has become the most effective active spreading educational method in museums now. By analyzing the interactive exhibition cases and studying the new trend, the paper summarizes the new method of new media interactive exhibition design, hoping to enlighten and help designers who engage in interactive experience exhibition in museums.

Besides the physical museums, more and more Virtual museums are being created, allowing us to enjoy famous works at high resolutions online. This has led many people to think that visiting museums is a time-wasting activity. Through investigations on many interactive media areas in museums, we realised that the museums’ previous exhibition designs of making the exhibits the “centre” of the design often failed and were unable to achieve the intended effect. Although most current museums do have many touch-screen devices installed to allow for direct interaction with the audience, questions like “What can we do to attract audiences?” or more specifically, “How can we encourage the younger generation, who love to surf the net, to come down to museums to learn?” have become the keys of the current development of the museums. “How can we increase the amount of direct interaction with the audience?” has also become an important point of consideration for people-oriented museums.

With the introduction of new media styled experiential interactive designs, besides improving the multi-dimensional experience of the audience, by making use of multimedia tools and equipment, we are able to add in interesting topics for the audience to ponder upon during the exhibition. We are also able to make use of the quick spread of new media to guide and increase the amount of interaction among the audience and also between the exhibits and the audience. For example, Taiwan’s National Palace Museum makes use of an “Along the River during the Qingming Festival” monopoly game to attract younger audiences. Through this educational and interesting video game familiar to people of all generations, youths were able to immerse themselves in the experience, and learn about the essence of traditional Chinese culture. Another example is the Vaso Art Gallery, which made some of its works into puzzles, laying every set in front of its original art work to allow the audience to piece the pieces back together. These games will allow the audience to feel a sense of achievement upon participating, while providing entertainment at the same time. As the audience carefully observe the original art work, it is possible for the experience to be both fun and educational.

Keywords: New Media, Interactive Experience, Intelligent Exhibition, Museum

Chair: Hedren Sum


Reforming the Representation of the Reformation. Mixed Reality Narratives in Communicating Tangible and Intangible Heritage of the Protestant Reformation in Finland

Lauri Viinikkala, Laura Yli-Seppälä, Olli I. Heimo, Seppo Helle, Lauri Härkänen, Sami Jokela, Lauri Järvenpää, Timo Korkalainen, Jussi Latvala, Juho Pääkylä, Kaapo Seppälä, Tuomas Mäkilä and Teijo Lehtonen

This paper introduces a case in which cultural heritage is communicated by combining historical narrative with Mixed Reality (MR) technology. The art of representing intangible heritage and making abstract and complex transformations comprehensible with MR technology is being discussed through a case example. MR application Sanan seppä (“Wordsmith”) represents the history of the Protestant Reformation in Finland (1527 onwards). The application has been implemented inside the Turku Cathedral in Southwest Finland. The application offers a set of short scenes appearing in different places inside the Cathedral. Technically, the app runs in a tablet computer, and it is based on a 3D game engine. Bluetooth beacons are used for coarse positioning, and 3D point cloud technology is applied for markerless tracking. The app supports social media services and includes links to background information about the characters and events within the story.

We argue that MR technology is more than well suitable for communicating both tangible and intangible cultural heritage. In our case example we examine how different kinds of cultural heritage connected with the reformation can be visualized and made more comprehensible. In practice, this means combining the Turku Cathedral, objects within it and digital elements with MR enables showing how the reformation has affected both Finnish culture and material surroundings.

The changes inside a church space – the tangible proof of changes brought by reformation – are rather easy to depict but even more immaterial things like customs or opinions can be made visible. With the help of the 3D characters the Sanan seppä application shows how the reformation could have affected the everyday life of people from different backgrounds. Thus the MR application makes the past appear more polyphonic than in more traditional ways of mediating the past. Reference material from various sources has been used when creating the application, and users of the application are provided with information about the sources used.

Keywords: mixed reality, augmented reality, tangible cultural heritage, intangible cultural heritage, reconstructions, fictionality, reformation


Prototyping collaborative (co)-archiving practices – From archival appraisal to co-archival facilitation

Elisabet M. Nilsson

The research theme Urban Archiving is part of a multi-disciplinary research project called Living Archives at Malmö University, exploring archives and archiving practices in a digitized society. One of the aims is to create design activities dedicated to exploring, and prototyping possibilities for future digital archives in various contexts, such as cities.

As argued by Derrida (1995, p. 4): “[e]ffective democratization can always be measured by this essential criterion: the participation in and access to the archive, its constitution and its interpretation”, which is a statement serving as starting point for the research presented in this proposed paper. How can we involve the underrepresented in contributing to our archives, and in sharing the story of our times from their point of view? The aim of the research activities presented is to explore and prototype alternative forms of collaborative (co)-archiving practices for involving more people in generating archive material. The focus has up to now been on underrepresented, marginalised communities living in our city, but also on recently arrived newcomers. The methodological approach is design research. Principles and methods from the fields of participatory design are applied implying that prototyping and design interventions are part of the process. A series of interventions in collaboration with artists and/or students has been conducted resulting in a collection of co-archiving practices:

  • Eat a Memory: through the act of cooking and eating, memories are performed, shared and stored in various formats. A joint meal in the form of a potluck is applied to access and record new and diverse histories of people and places.
  • Plant your History: explores how urban gardens manifest the cultural heritage of neighbourhood communities in collaboration with urban gardening communities.
  • Memory Game: a card game working as a framework for collecting, storing and sharing memories. It is developed in collaboration with an artist collective and played together with community members.
  • Soil Memories: an act of collective storytelling and archiving practice intended for looking at soil as medium-generating multi-layered urban data.
  • Mosaic of Malmö: a student driven project exploring co-archiving practices for capturing five different senses: smell, colour, face expressions, voices and memories, for sharing cultural heritage.
  • Designing an archiving practice using comedy: a student-drive project exploring comedy as a way of generating stories about cultural heritage and identities.

In this proposed paper the co-archiving practices listed above will be contextualised and reflected upon, and serve a contribution to the conference section on ways of accessing intangible heritage resources beyond traditional methods. Since our co-archiving practices allow for the involvement of many senses beyond words, we argue that they assume a democratic and an inclusive approach generating archive material in a highly structured, but still personal and open way. Next step is to put these co-archiving practices into action and in collaboration with a public archive continue to explore how we can democratise the access and participation in our archives – and in the end, in writing our common history.

Keywords: co-archiving, underrepresented communities, design research, participatory design, prototyping, intangible cultural heritage, activist archivist


How the Web impacts Intangible Heritage – a Nanyin Case Study

Steven Wu, Herminia Din and Jean Tsai

This paper explores the impacts of the global web and, in particular, social media on the performing arts. Specifically, Siong Leng Musical Association which champions Nanyin musical theatre in Singapore is selected to anchor the discussion. The paper will examine SLMA’s web involvement under subheadings, namely: a) Reach: effectiveness of official websites and other virtual presence set up by followers; b) Engagement: virtual audience participation in social media sites; mobile accessibility; c) Augmentation: innovative blending of web-based services to solve operational issues of publicity, collaboration and fundraising. Overall transformative impacts to transmission, sharing, collaboration, informing and education are also discussed. NT (“southern music”) is listed in the UNESCO List of Intangible Heritage. NT has historical links to China’s Fujian/Minnan province. In recent years, the Chinese government has been taking a lead through policy that integrates the work of provincial authorities, society, schools and research institutions on promoting and preserving NT. Over the centuries, migrant

NT (“southern music”) is listed in the UNESCO List of Intangible Heritage. NT has historical links to China’s Fujian/Minnan province. In recent years, the Chinese government has been taking a lead through policy that integrates the work of provincial authorities, society, schools and research institutions on promoting and preserving NT. Over the centuries, migrant artistes had brought NT to foreign soils. As a result, this theatrical art is still being performed by artistic troupes located far beyond its country of origin. For example, the Siong Leng Musical Association (SLMA) was founded in 1941 to preserve, develop and promote Nanyin and Liyuan Opera in Singapore. Whilst NT is being re-interpreted by diaspora artistes in different parts of the world, it continues to draw inspiration from its origins. Current limitations of

Current limitations of stage and cinematic delivery are discussed. With the rapid adoption of web technologies in the cultural sector, the SLMA’s web strategy is examined to support the thesis that intangible heritage is being transformed by online technologies in terms of accessibility, inclusion and preservation. Social media sites such as Facebook have attained global memberships of over one billion people of all demographics. Facebook, Google and Youtube provide multiple means for their members to form subgroups and search for shared interests. Members are also allowed to upload content to these sites for sharing. With their large databases and interlinks collectively built up by diverse participants, these social media serve as both historical repositories as well as platforms for new discourses. The paper will be anchored on real life inputs from performing groups including SLMA and their fan bases.

The paper evaluates SLMA’s strategy and execution against an “idealised” set of transformative activities – transmitting, sharing, informing, educating, collaborating and administrating. Arguably, the fusion of technology with art for inclusion, accessibility, participation and delivery is a natural, perhaps even necessary, step forward in the future development of theatrical arts.

Keywords: Nanyin, Siong Leng, UNESCO, Reach, Engagement, Augmentation, Transformation, Safeguarding, Social media, Web services

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