Special Events

The Past is Present: Virtuality, Archaeology, and the Future of History

Special Events
05 Apr, 2018

The Past is Present: Virtuality, Archaeology, and the Future of History

April 5, 2018
10 AM — 5 PM | 310 Banatao Auditorium, Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley

With rapid advances in modern documentation and interpretive technologies such as scanning, visualization, and Virtual and Augmented Reality, how must our study of the past and its material legacy adapt?

The Past is Present is an interdisciplinary event bringing together scholars, students, technology innovators, and cultural heritage workers in conversation about new methods and tools which are shaping their work.

Register for the conference here!

Speakers include: Christophe Girot (ETH Zurich), Nicolò Dell'Unto (Lund University), Elaine Sullivan (University of California, Santa Cruz), Eugenie Shinkle (University of Westminster), Benjamin Porter (University of California, Berkeley), Adam Lowe (Factum Arte), Brendan Cormier (Victoria & Albert Museum), David Gissen (California College of the Arts), Jennifer Stager (City College of California), Maurizio Forte (Duke University), Rachel Opitz (University of Glasgow), Stuart Eve (University College London), Sonia Katyal (University of California Berkeley)

Presented in partnership with swissnex San Francisco, with support from Arts + Design, LAEP, the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, Research, Teaching and Learning (RTL), the Archaeological Research Facility (ARF), and Digital Humanities at Berkeley.

Conference Schedule

10:00 AM: Welcome

10:30 AM: A Fragile Past: Documenting Archaeology and Architecture

Christophe Girot (ETH Zurich)

Christophe Girot is Professor and Chair of Landscape Architecture at the Architecture Department of the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) in Zurich since 2001. He has directed the Institute of Landscape Architecture there from 2005 to 2014. His research addresses three topics: Topological methods in landscape architecture, New media in landscape analysis and perception, A history and theory of landscape architecture. Emphasis at the Chair has been given to large scale landscape design and modelling with particular attention to the topology of natural systems in cities. The recently founded LVML (landscape visualising and modelling laboratory) of the ETH funded since 2009 by the Swiss National Science Foundation, and co-directed with ETH Planning Professor Dr. Adrienne Grêt- Regamey has enabled significant advances in applied ecological design and point cloud modelling. This has enabled to Chair of Christophe Girot to direct a CTI project from 2012-2014 with ETH Professor Marc Pollefeys at the Department of Computer Imaging together with the Leica /Hexagon company entitled 4D sites. The Gotthard Project developed as a point cloud model by Christophe Girot in collaboration with Professors Burkhalter and Sumi of the Academy in Mendrisio was exhibited as a collateral event at the 2014 Architecture Biennale in Venice. Christophe Girot holds a practice in Zürich with projects both in Europe and in Asia. The Sigirino Mound project for the Alp Transit Company in Ticino as well as the Brissago Garden project in Ticino with SAM architects test the current limits of topological design and modelling in extreme alpine situations. The Sigirino Project was also exhibited at the 2014 Architecture Biennale in Rotterdam. Other large scale projects such as the Basel 3Land Masterplan together with the office LIN, and the Montplaisir Estate project in Lodève with KCAP have been completed. Christophe Girot has published extensively in key reference books and contributed significant articles to the field of landscape architecture. The Book entitled “The Course of Landscape Architecture” published by Thames & Hudson in English, Ullmer in French and Detail in German has come out in 2016. Christophe Girot was awarded the ETH Golden Owl (Goldene Eule) award for teaching excellence in 2016.

Nicolò Dell'Unto (Lund University)

Nicolo Dell'Unto is a Senior Lecturer and Reader in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History at Lund University, where he is responsible for courses of landscape archaeology and digital archaeology. His research is focused on the development of digital methodologies for the investigation and the analysis of archaeological contexts. In particular, he is interested in how the use of new technologies, such as laser scanners, photogrammetry techniques, GIS, and virtual reality, are influencing the way we investigate and perceive the past. Previously, Dell'Unto conducted research at Lund at the Department of Design Science and at the Humanistic Lab. He studied archaeology at the University of Rome La Sapienza, and after a period of work as research assistant at the Institute for Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage, ITABC-CNR Italy, he completed a PhD in Technologies and Management of Cultural Heritage at the Institute for Advance Studies -IMT Lucca, Italy.

Elaine Sullivan (University of California, Santa Cruz)

Dr. Sullivan is an Egyptologist and a Digital Humanist. Her work focuses on applying new technologies to ancient cultural materials. She acts as the project coordinator of the Digital Karnak Project, a multi-phased 3D virtual reality model of the famous ancient Egyptian temple complex of Karnak. She is project director of 3D Saqqara, which harnesses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies and 3D modeling to explore the ritual and natural landscape of the famous cemetery of Saqqara through both space and time. Her field experience in Egypt includes five seasons of excavation with Johns Hopkins University at the temple of the goddess Mut (Luxor), as well as four seasons in the field with a UCLA project in the Egyptian Fayum, at the Greco-Roman town of Karanis. Because of a broad interest in the history and material culture of the larger ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean worlds, she has also excavated at sites in Syria, Italy, and Israel. Dr. Sullivan received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Egyptian Art and Archaeology from Johns Hopkins University. Her B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) in History is from Duke University.

Eugenie Shinkle (University of Westminster)

Originally trained as a civil engineer, Eugenie Shinkle went on to study photography, art history, landscape anthropology and critical theory, obtaining her doctorate from the Slade School of Fine Art (London, UK) in 2003. Her academic research is interdisciplinary in nature and includes both visual and written practice. She writes on a range of topics including architecture, landscape, fashion photography, vision machines, and human/technology relations. These diverse areas are bound together by a longstanding interest in the haptic and embodied dimensions of our relations with images and image-making technologies. More recently this interest has grown to incorporate ideas drawn from affect theory and cognitive neuroscience, and to explore ways that such approaches can broaden our understanding of our relationships with photographic images. She is Reader in Photography at the Westminster School of Media Art and Design in London.

Moderated by: Benjamin Porter (University of California, Berkeley)

Benjamin W. Porter is Director of the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology and an Associate Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology in the University of California, Berkeley's Near Eastern Studies Department. Porter is a Near Eastern archaeologist who investigates how past Middle Eastern and Mediterranean societies built resilient communities and institutions in arid and semi-arid zones. He directs field archaeology projects in Jordan at the Iron Age capitals of Dhiban and Busayra. He also co-directs a museum collections project at the Hearst Museum that is researching evidence from Peter B. Cornwall's 1941 expedition to Bahrain and Eastern Saudi Arabia. Porter’s 2013 book, Complex Communities: The Archaeology of Early Iron Age West-Central Jordan, won the American Schools of Oriental Research 2014 G.E. Wright Book Award. Porter’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Max Van Berchem Foundation, the Warren G. Hellman Fellows Fund, and the Louis J. Kolb Society of Fellows at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a founding board member of the Institute for Field Research (, a non-profit organization that supports excellence in archaeological field school training.

12:00 PM: Lunch, with demonstrations from Noah Eckhous representing Geoslam Zeb-Revo and Chris Brown representing Faro scanners.

1:30 PM: Previous Pasts: Accessing history through Drawings, Plans, Casts, and Copies

Adam Lowe (Factum Arte)

Adam Lowe is the founder of Factum Foundation and director of Factum Arte. He has been pioneering the application of technology to the recording of cultural heritage since 2001 when the first high-resolution laser scanning was carried out in the tomb of Seti I. The work in Egypt has grown into the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative and led to the creation of the Centre for 3D Scanning, Archiving, and Training at Stoppelaere House.

Lowe has been written about extensively and the work he is doing to promote the Factum Foundation is known and respected around the world. He has written on the subject of originality and authenticity, is an adjunct professor at the MS Historic Preservation at Columbia University, New York, and teaches and lectures widely in Europe and the US. He is a central part of the initiative with ¬École Polytechnic Fédérale de Lausanne and Fondazione Giorgio Cini to create a centre of Digital Humanities in Venice. His collaborations with the Fondazione Giorgio Cini started in 2006 and have resulted in many successful collaborations including the facsimile of Veronese's Wedding at Cana, the touring exhibition, The Arts of Piranesi, and exhibition of tapestries Penelope's Labour: Weaving Words and Images (with Jerry Brotton).

Lowe initiated the very successful relationship between FF and the Peri Foundation, that has led to the training of several Russian nationals and to complex recording tasks that focus on works of major importance to the Islamic and Christian sites. An agreement to record an archive of Hebraica and Judaica is being finalized now. Adam Lowe is currently working on projects for the Venice Biennale 2018, a proposal to establish the Saudi Arts Institution, a collaboration with Community Jameel in Dubai, collaborations in Brazil with Peoples Palace Projects, and the V&A lead initiative ReACH. The major project for October 2017 is an exhibition at the Antikenmuseum (a collaboration with the award winning architect Charlotte Skene Catling) entitled Scanning Seti - The Regeneration of a Pharaonic Tomb. The exhibition focuses on 200 years in the life of the tomb of Seti I and the work of the Theban Necropolis Preservation Initiative.

He has featured in many television and radio programmes and is currently completing a seven-hour series with Sky Arts that focuses on the re-creation of seven great works of art lost or destroyed in the C20th. It was recently announced that a new arts centre in Riyadh would be constructed to host the Misk Art Institute, taking the main concept of Factum Arte's space and managed by the Saudi artist Ahmed Mater.

Brendan Cormier (Victoria & Albert Museum)

Brendan is responsible for the curatorial development of the V&A Gallery, and its inaugural exhibition Values of Design. As part of this collaboration he co-curated with Luisa Mengoni the exhibition ‘Unidentified Acts of Design’ presented at the Hong-Kong Shenzhen Urbanism\Architecture Bi-city Biennale (UABB) in 2015. Prior to his work on this project, he collaborated on a handful of international curatorial projects including the first Iranian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2014. He also served as the managing editor of Volume magazine, an international quarterly publication about architecture and urbanism, and writes regularly for books and magazines on design and architecture.

David Gissen (California College of the Arts)

David Gissen is the author of books, essays, exhibitions and experimental writings and projects about environments, landscapes, cities, and buildings from our time and the historical past. A Professor at the California College of the Arts, visiting professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, History Theory Criticism program (2015), and a visiting critic at numerous schools in the United States and Europe, David lectures and teaches in the areas of architecture, urban, and landscape history-theory, preservation, writing and design. At CCA, he co-directs the Experimental History Project and the MAAD HTX degree. Currently, he is developing a critical, environmental history of the reproduction of global cultural artifacts (objects, images, texts, and audio) in the late 19th and 20th centuries; simultaneously, he is developing contemporary “environmental reproduction” and “environmental translation” techniques that can represent aspects of the spatial and environmental histories and qualities of artifacts within a reproduction. This latter work is being done as a consultant with a variety of museums and cultural institutions.

Moderated by: Jennifer Stager (City College of California)

A childhood laboring on an archaeological dig in the Middle East honed Jennifer’s interest in the stories we tell about material remains and prompted her to pursue a PhD in the history of art (received 2012, UC Berkeley), which included fellowships from the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and the Getty Research Institute and extensive travel. Jennifer's primary area of research is ancient Mediterranean art in its global context. Since returning home to San Francisco in Fall 2013, Jennifer has focused on writing (in publications such as Art Practical), teaching (at UC Berkeley and City college of San Francisco) and curating (the exhibition 'Picasso and Rivera' at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art).

3:00 PM: Coffee Break, with demonstrations from Noah Eckhous representing Geoslam Zeb-Revo and Chris Brown representing Faro scanners.

3:30 PM: Publishing the Past: Academic, Public, and Pedagogical Priorities for the 21st Century

Maurizio Forte (Duke University)

Maurizio Forte is William and Sue Gross Professor of Classical Studies Art, Art History, and Visual Studies at Duke University. He is also the founder of the DIG@Lab (for a digital knowledge of the past) at Duke. His main research topics are: digital archaeology, Etruscan and Pre-Roman archaeology, classical archaeology and neuro-archaeology. His primary archaeological research questions concern the development, transformation and decline of ancient cities.
Archaeological fieldwork and excavations include Vulci (Italy), Catalhoyuk (Turkey), Agringento - Valley of the Temples (Italy), and the Burgaz Project (Turkey). Virtual Museums include The Trajan's Puzzle (Rome, IT); Regium Lepidi (Reggio Emilia, IT), Vulci 3000 (Italy). Previously, Professor Forte was a professor of World Heritage at the University of California, Merced and Director of the Virtual Heritage Lab. He was Chief of Research at CNR (Italian National Research Council) of “Virtual Heritage: integrated digital technologies for knowledge and communication of cultural heritage through virtual reality systems”, Senior Scientist at CNR’s Institute for Technologies Applied to the Cultural Heritage (ITABC), and Professor of "Virtual Environments for Cultural Heritage" in the “Master of Science in Communication Technology-Enhanced Communication for Cultural Heritage”at the University of Lugano. Since 2010 he is director of the 3D-Digging project at Çatalhöyük and since 2014 he is the director of the Vulci 3000 Project.

He is editor and author of several books including “Virtual Archaeology” (1996), Virtual Reality in Archaeology (2000), “From Space to Place” (2006), “La Villa di Livia. Un percorso di ricerca di archeologia virtual” (2008), “Cyberarchaeology (2012), Regium lepidi 220: Archeologia e nuove tecnologie per la ricostruzione di Reggio Emilia in eta' Romana (2017); Digital Methods and Remote Sensing in Archaeology (co-editor S. Campana, 2017); and he has written more than 200 scientific papers.

Rachel Opitz (University of Glasgow)

Dr. Rachel Opitz has an active research program focused on rural western Mediterranean societies and landscapes in the 1st millennium BCE. Her research investigates how different rural communities are operating within the increasingly interconnected Mediterranean world. The foundations of this work are in remote sensing and survey, human perception of the built and natural environment as studied through formal exercises in 3D modeling and analysis of visual attention of users of the models, and the material culture of rural communities and the towns emerging within them.

Her recognized methodological expertise includes photogrammetric modeling in the context of excavations, work primarily carried out at the Gabii Project – a major research excavation in central Italy, in LIDAR analysis of sites and landscapes, work primarily carried out through the LIEPPEC Project, a multi-method survey in the Forêt de Chailluz in the Franche-Comté, and in developing information metrics to ask new archaeological questions using 3D data. She is currently pursuing the application of perceptual saliency metrics for investigating the way humans visually perceive the basic elements of their surroundings, with important implications for the organization of space in built environments and the placement of structures and markers in landscapes.

She currently serves as the chair of the Aerial Archaeology Research Group (2015-2018), a member of the Archaeo Landscapes International Project General Management Board, and as the Director of SPARC.

Stuart Eve (University College London)

Stuart is currently a Research Associate at the University of Leicester, looking at the use of Mixed Reality for visualising and exploring the archaeological landscape of Avebury in Wiltshire, UK. He specialises in combining GIS and Spatial Analysis techniques with a body-centred, phenomenological view of the landscape. As a founding partner of the commercial archaeology firm, L - P : Archaeology, Stuart is also interested in bridging the academic and commercial gap, taking inspiration and method from both sides to further current archaeological practice.

Stuart is also an architect of the Archaeological Recording Kit (ARK), an open-source online GIS and database system, for storing and querying archaeological data.

Moderated by: Sonia Katyal (University of California Berkeley)

Professor Katyal is a Chancellor's Professor of Law and co-director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology at UC Berkeley's Boalt Law School. Her scholarly work focuses on the intersection of technology, intellectual property, and civil rights (including antidiscrimination, privacy, and freedom of speech). Her past projects have studied the relationship between copyright enforcement and informational privacy, the impact of branding and trademark law on freedom of expression, and the intersection between copyright law and gender with respect to cultural works. Katyal also works on issues relating to cultural property and art, with a special focus on new media and the role of museums in the United States and abroad. Her current projects focus on the intersection between internet access and civil/human rights, with a special focus on the right to information; algorithmic transparency and discrimination; source code and the impact of trade secrecy; and a variety of projects on the intersection between gender and the commons. As a member of the university-wide Haas LGBT Cluster, Professor Katyal also works on matters regarding law and sexuality. Current projects involve an article on technology, surveillance and gender, and another on family law’s governance of transgender parents. Professor Katyal’s recent publications include Technoheritage, in the California Law Review. Professor Katyal has won several awards for her work, including an honorable mention in the American Association of Law Schools Scholarly Papers Competition, a Yale Cybercrime Award, and a Dukeminier Award from the Williams Project at UCLA.

5:00 PM: Closing

5:30 PM: Reception Hosted by the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology with support from Research, Teaching and Learning (RTL)

Register for a free ticket here!

The Past is Present

The Past is Present: Virtuality, Archaeology, and the Future of History is an interdisciplinary event bringing together scholars, students, technology innovators, and cultural heritage workers in conversation about new methods and tools which are shaping their work.

Over the course of three days (April 4-6), the Berkeley Center for New Media will provide a venue for an international group to explore critical issues of new technologies. On April 4th, we will begin the program with an opening reception for a VR exhibition around art, archaeology, and architecture. The symposium on April 5th will feature scholarly presentations on topics such as Documenting Archaeology and Architecture; Accessing history through Drawings, Plans, Casts, and Copies; and Academic, Public, and Pedagogical Priorities for the 21st Century. Participants will also grapple with these issues through hands-on demos and workshops alongside professionals in the tech industry on the last day of the event.

Click here for more information on the exhibition and workshop.

Presented in partnership with swissnex San Francisco, with support from Arts + Design, LAEP, the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, CITRIS, Research, Teaching and Learning (RTL), the Archaeological Research Facility (ARF), and Digital Humanities at Berkeley.

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