Virtual Aspirations: ‘to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’
Richard C. Beacham
My engagement for over two decades in digital “Virtual” visualisations of historic buildings has evolved from static 2D depictions of 3D models, through “fly through” animations, to interactive models — offline, then online — to eventually fashion and depict them as “virtual worlds”. In this latest incarnation, they can be explored in communal multi-avatar environments with real time communication amongst participants, while affording users instant access to the underlying research data informing such models. Now, “Oculus Rift” and analogous immersive viewing technologies mark the current stage in the capacity to evoke for the viewer highly compelling visualisations of lost or eroded historical architecture. Focussing upon a single space (tentatively room 23 of the Roman Villa of Oplontis) I will trace the luminous path and progress of this technological “trajectory”, highlighting the manner in which each stage built upon, exploited, and pushed forward users’ engagement with and understanding of the space.