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Representation and Preservation of Heritage Crafts

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Mingei (Representation and Preservation of Heritage Crafts)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2022-05-31

Mingei strengthened the representation, digital conservation, and preservation of tangible and intangible heritage due to Traditional Crafts. A stepwise digitisation protocol for Heritage Crafts (HCs) and the technical tools to implement it, was created and applied in three pilot use cases.

Cultural preservation is vital in maintaining cultural identities, pluralism and socio-historical continuity. In the words of UNESCO (2017) on the role of culture for resilience, peace and security “Collectively preserving our Heritage, by protecting culture and promoting cultural pluralism, leads to more resilient and peaceful societies”. Heritage preservation encourages tourism and crafts are a way that all visitors can be involved in a cultural experience, while cultural tourism is an important source of income in a community. Many tourists visit cultural sites to participate in culturally-enriching activities and tend to spend more time at these sites. Safeguarding, making accessible and enhancing cultural resources with digital and physical experiences in the context of cultural tourism incentivises craft practice, continuation, and preservation.

The overall objective of Mingei is the ability to represent HCs, through the curation of digital assets for their preservation. This representation captures the wide spectrum of knowledge that HC cover, from objects and their making, the hand gestures and tool uses that define craft motor skills, to the societal value, economic impact, and historical significance of HCs.
The work carried out in Mingei was organised as follows.

In WP1 (Co-Creation), we designed a co-creation approach that laid the foundation for our engagement with craft practitioners and communities. During the project, we iteratively refined the initial formulation of the Mingei protocol for craft representation and preservation, based on collaborative design, ethnography, and interviews with practitioners, curators, as well as CH scholars and professionals. The Mingei protocol was published in scientific journals that entertain the overall approach, as well as specific topics of interest. The Mingei protocol was also presented in an Open Access handbook addressed to individuals and organisations interested in the documentation, preservation, and safeguarding of traditional crafts.

In WP2 (Capture), we acquired digital assets and collected knowledge on craft practice and craft socio-historical context, formulating collections of digital assets and fundamental narratives for the pilot HCs. The result was the Mingei collection of knowledge and digital assets of the three pilot crafts, as well as good practices in the digitisation of 3D assets related to crafts and 4D human motion.

In WP3 (Examine), we developed a knowledge representation model for HCs and an online platform, for the instantiation of craft representations according to this model. The result, the Mingei Online Platform, is a Web-based, collaborative authoring tool, for crafting processes and contextualisation narratives, and an online resource for CH stakeholders.

In WP4 (Ideate & Design), we defined concrete use cases and application scenarios for stakeholders' use of Mingei outcomes. Designs were formulated incrementally, first as rapid prototypes and through iterative evaluation to high fidelity prototypes. The results were the final system designs for the Mingei protocol tools, the presentation modalities, and the pilot experiences.

In WP5 (Develop & Execute), we developed our approach for practitioner motion digitisation and visualisation and developed real-time gesture recognition methods that provide sensory-motor feedback for craft training. Motion digitisation methods include Motion Capture and conventional video, so that motion can be extracted from archive documentaries.

In WP6 (Experience, Learn & Express), we created applications and services for multifaceted access to HC representations. Digital preservation and informational access for researchers are provided directly by the MOP. A set of presentation modalities were developed that retrieve HC representations and implement virtual humans as craft tutors and narrators for educational services, delivered through AR and MR experiences.

In WP7 (Maximizing Impact), we acted on maximising project impact for stakeholders. The results were provided in the form of two open-access, hands-on guides on increasing the impact of digital heritage projects and on working with HC communities.

In WP8 (Inform & Engage), we disseminated the project research outcomes, communicated its impact potentials, and developed an exploitation strategy for the project outcomes. The results include 35 scientific publications, posts on all major social media, newsletters, and presentations of Mingei in international scientific fora.

In WP9 (Manage), we developed and applied our project management strategy. A data management plan was developed while meeting reports and quality assurance reports were collected.

Furthermore, in the course of the project, we have identified the outcomes iteratively with exploitation potential and identified the target needs and opportunities. For each outcome, we identified the IPR holders and defined multiple exploitation possibilities.
State-of-the-art was extended by a systematic approach and a representation model for craft representation and preservation, a set of technical tools to implement this protocol, as well as Open Access publications and handbooks that establish the Mingei approach scientifically and elaborate on its application practically.

For CH scholars and professionals, the MOP comprises a resource devoted to the representation of crafts, but also contextualisation narratives. For museums, content owners, and CH institutions, new content is provided from the representation of crafts and narratives. The generic, immersive, and contextualising presentation modalities find applications beyond crafts, in the presentation of contextualisation narratives for any artefact. The presentation of processes comprises a way to show how an artefact was made or used.

Mingei positively impacts ICH preservation through digital documentation and knowledge representation tools for HCs. The economic resource due to heritage is a motivator in the domain of thematic and sustainable tourism. Mingei shows how collaborative creation with local practitioners and communities is a way to support the preservation of traditional values and practices in their natural environment.
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