The Museum of pure form: A novel multimedia VR installation for haptic interaction with digitised works of arts
Today Virtual Reality is more and more considered an effective knowledge instrument; in fact it allows to “know the world” by learning in an enactive way, which is more natural for the human being than the symbolic-reconstructive learning, mediated by the action of writing. The recent technologies aimed at the observation, modelling and 3D visualisation are more and more employed in the field of cultural heritage. At present the field of cultural heritage is becoming an important application domain for virtual environment technologies. The cultural heritage is the starting point of the development and, at the same time, its purpose. In this way culture itself, broadly speaking, characterises itself as a heritage, at the service of mankind, able to knock down time and space barriers. Information technologies create for the cultural heritage a stable bridge able to link past and future: the work of art, rescued or re-invented, lives, through the information media, a constantly present time. A present, which is anyway in eternal motion, continuously changing. This evolution allows the change in approaching the cultural heritage and the way of enjoying it, keeping up with technological innovations, and not only according to historical eras. Today we can visit virtual sites that include beauties of places physically very distant from each other; we can choose our knowledge routes; we can interact with a work of art regardless of its location and its age. The virtual reality projects are aimed at offering the user simulations, which are closer and closer to the real experience; however, no project has managed so far to overstep the friction borders to reach realistic sensorial perceptions. The “Museum of Pure Form” project was born in order to try to reach this target; to supersede the fiction of virtual reality in order to lead to an environment where the works of art will be able to be seen and touched.
The workshop on "New technological interfaces for the perception and enjoyment of works of art. background, current situation and perspectives. museum of pure form"
On the occasion of the presentation of the Museum of Pure Form and the robotic arm, which together with a virtual reality system allows the user to touch the three-dimensional models of the works of art housed in different museums around the world, we programmed a series of lectures and debates to analyse the background, current situation and perspective for the application of these technologies to artistic creation. The conference cyle was the following: Thursday, January 22 -Presentation of the conference cyle organised by Roberta Bosco and Stefano Caldana, both journalists specialised in digital art and culture. -Contribution of Massimo Bergamasco and Antonio Frisoli: "Museum of Pure Form: aspirations and applications of the project." - Contribution of Marcel.li Antunez, founding member of La Fura dels Baus. He has participated as an actor, musician and artistic coordinator in a number of different performances, actions and interactive installations. Friday, January 23 - Contribution of Gunnar Jansson: "Experiments with haptic applications. Breakthroughs." - Contribution of Claudia Gianetti, director of MECAD/Media Centre d'Art i Disseny d'ESDI (Barcelona). - Contribution of Stelarc, who is a performance artist who explores the concept of the body and how it relates to technology through interfaces that connect the machine and the body. Saturday, January 24 - Contribution of Ken Rinaldo, an interdisciplinary artist who works with robotic installation in search of the intersection and synthesis of our natural and technological culture. These conferences and activities not only congregated the technical experts responsible for developing the technology of the robotic arm, but also artists and theorists who work in the field of new technologies and virtual reality in the broadest sense. From both a theoretical and practical standpoint, the participants represented all the different trends in the research of these systems.
In September 2003 a new multimedia room was opened within the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Pisa, and the Museum of Pure Form was first presented to the public. The installation of the system in OPAE museum has remained open during open since September 2003. In July 2004 the haptic system has been replaced by the new exoskeleton device. The Museum is intended to work in conjunction with a variety of display technologies, and its first deployment within a CAVE-like environment was performed at University College London in November 2003. Within the museum, a multimedia room open to the public, hosts the Pure Form system. In order to create an immersive environment, a wooden box has been specifically designed and manufactured; it has also been provided with darkening entrance curtain and fireproof material, covering also the ceiling of the box itself. The immersive box has also been provided with lighting system and pedestals where two haptic interface systems have been located to test the haptic system at an intermediate phase. Visitors entering in the room are immersed in a quiet atmosphere, with suffused lights and soft music. On one wall of the room a stereoscopic 3D projection of a virtual environment is presented to the visitor that is free to interact with the contents of the environment through the haptic interface system standing in front of the wall. An audio narration explains the visitor historical notes and details about the works on display.