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Representation and Preservation of Heritage Crafts

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Mingei (Representation and Preservation of Heritage Crafts)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2019-11-30

Mingei offers a method to digitally document, semantically represent, and actively support the preservation of Heritage Crafts (HCs). In this way, Mingei aspires to capture a comprehensive picture of the wide spectrum of tangible and intangible knowledge encompassed by this form of Cultural Heritage (CH).

A multidisciplinary approach is followed to digitally represent material heritage, human motion and action, socio-historic context, as well as experience and knowledge on craft practice and apprenticeship.

Towards the implementation of this vision, Mingei offers a craft representation protocol for the systematic acquisition of digital assets, the representation of knowledge, and the authoring of craft representations. The protocol is accompanied by tools for its implementation and guidelines for the simplification of the process and for the optimal of resources.

Intuitiveness of description and simplicity of use aim the capacity building of creative communities and cultural heritage institutions. Mingei is available as an online platform which comprises a resource for the (a) creation of benefit for cultural institutions, content owners, and researchers, (b) support of craft training and education, and (c) promotion of thematic tourism relevant to HCs, as a way towards sustainable preservation of this form of CH.

The efficacy of this approach is demonstrated in three pilots whose diversity spans multiple craft dimensions, namely silk textile manufacturing, making of glass objects, and mastic cultivation.

The preservation common cultural elements and individual identities stemming provides a wider appreciation and a better understanding of cultural continuity and cultural pluralism in Europe. The main societal impact thus stems from “collectively preserving our Heritage, by protecting culture and promoting cultural pluralism, [which] leads to more resilient and peaceful societies” [UNESCO, The role of culture for resilience, peace and security, 2017].
Mingei formalises the craft representation process, starting with craft understanding from its practitioners, the acquisition of digital documentation, and the collection of knowledge about the physical objects and environments, the making processes, and the socio-historic context of traditional, or heritage, crafts.
The viewpoint of practitioners forms these representations. Conceptual process modelling is co-created with practitioners and communities to obtain technical requirements and use cases, leading to craft and community understanding. Concepts and working prototypes aim at craft presentation modalities and set the basis for developing concepts and defining experiences. The content empowering this representation is obtained from the representation of craft practice and craft context, including the oral tradition, literature, testimonies and historical sources.

A detailed mapping of craft dimensions provides a precise definition of relevant knowledge topics, including (i) 3D digital recording and mechanical understanding of craft practice, (ii) semantic description of processes, and (iii) craft socio-historic context. The time and place of craft practice is the basis of the description of each craft instance.

For each pilot, pertinent digital assets were acquired and knowledge was collected. Digital assets include photographic and 3D documentation of physical objects and sites, human motion digitisation, and verbal content from literature, archives, and testimonies encompassing the socio-historic context of each craft instance. In addition, a novel, cost-efficient, ultra-high scanning modality for textiles was designed and implemented.

Knowledge representation from practitioner recordings and testimonies is simplified by content description tools, in the form of annotation editors. The representation of knowledge elements is simplified in a Web authoring platform, through dedicated user interface elements for representing objects, processes, actors, and events relevant to socio-historic context. The platform facilitates modelling of craft processes, visualisation of digital assets, and is accompanied by a digital asset management system.

Craft representation is achieved by a semantic meta-model that was developed to comply with existing standards in the CH domain (CIDOC-CRM, ISO 21127:2014). The existing ontology for narratives was extended to represent processes, besides contextual knowledge. Using this representation and the associated digital assets, represented processes and context are developed into narratives, instructions, mechanical representations, and experiences.
Using the collected content and knowledge, comprehensive representations of pilot crafts are compiled in the Mingei platform. Digitisation of objects, environments and human motion are used in motion-driven and activity-oriented narratives that explain craft practice. The semantic representation of the context allows authoring of narratives linked to the broader socio-historic context of these crafts.

Craft presentation targets the preservation of the CH stemming from crafts through documentation, safeguarding, participation, and transmission. An authoring tool for the visualisation of human motion aids the systematic creation of illustrated instructions about craft practice. Visualisation of tool usage and machine operation and interactive educational activities are provided in conventional, mobile, and AR, MR, and VR media.

The approach is tested in pilots and other sites. Emphasis is placed on the domain of thematic tourism, as it exhibits the potential of stimulating the preservation of crafts through participative experiences and activities. The exploitable products of Mingei and an exploitation strategy have been defined.
State-of-the-art is extended by a systematic approach to craft representation and a model for representing the heterogeneous and multifaceted knowledge on HCs; authoring tools for the representation of craft practice and context; engaging crafts presentations and educational experiences.

Mingei provides documentation and authoring tools that simplify the creation of new content through the association of knowledge from multiple sources. Using these tools, the implementation of narratives and engaging activities that support heritage preservation and enhance tourism services is simplified. These outcomes extend CH experiences beyond the time and space of a single visit and build the capacity of communities to preserve cultural heritage and identity, as well as motivate the education of new practitioners.

Mingei engages a part of CH that has not been systematically preserved in the past. Storytelling and educational tools contribute to the preservation of crafts through the transmission of heritage and by raising interest for its safeguarding. In terms of long-term sustainability, engaging educational tools pave the way to attracting prospective apprentices.

Mingei exhibits the potential to positively impact ICH preservation through digital documentation and knowledge representation tools for HCs. The economic resource due to heritage is chosen as a motivator in the domain thematic and sustainable tourism. Collaborative creation with local practitioners and communities supports the preservation of traditional values and practices in their natural environment and their involvement of communities as stakeholders supports the sustainability of the effort.
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