A critical practice-based exploration of interactive panoramas' role in helping to preserve cultural memory
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The rapid development of digital communication technologies in the 20th and 21st centuries has affected the way researchers look at ways memory – especially cultural memory – can be preserved and enhanced. State-of-the-art communication technologies such as the Internet or immersive environments support participation and interaction and transform memory into ‘prosthetic’ experience, where digital technologies could enable 'implantation' of events that have not actually been experienced. While there is a wealth of research on the preservation of public memory and cultural heritage sites using digital media, more can be explored on how these media can contribute to the cultivation of cultural memory. One of the most interesting phenomena related to this issue is how panoramas, which are immersive and have a well-established tradition in preserving memories, can be enhanced by recent digital technologies and image spaces. The emergence of digital panoramic video cameras and panoramic environments has opened up new opportunities for exploring the role of interactive panoramas not only as a documentary tool for visiting sites but mainly as a more complex technique for telling non-linear interactive narratives through the application of panoramic photography and panoramic videography which, when presented in a wrap-around environment, could enhance recalling. This thesis attempts to explore a way of preserving inspirational environments and memory sites in a way that combines panoramic interactive film and traversing the panoramic environment with viewing the photo-realistic panoramic content rather than computer-generated environment. This research is based on two case studies. The case study of Charles Church in Plymouth represents the topical approach to narrative and focuses on the preservation of the memory of the Blitz in Plymouth and the ruin of Charles Church which stands as a silent reminder of this event. The case study of Charles Causley reflects topographical approach where, through traversing the town of Launceston, viewers learn about Causley’s life and places that provided inspirations for his poems. The thesis explores through practice what can be done and reflects on positive and less positive aspects of preserving cultural memory in these case studies in a critical way. Therefore, the results and recommendations from this thesis can be seen as valuable contribution to the study of intermedia and cultural memory in general.
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