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Research Seminar "Immersive Architectures for the Embodiment of Culture and Heritage"
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Topic:  Research Seminar "Immersive Architectures for the Embodiment of Culture and Heritage"
posted itemPosted - 31/07/2009 :  14:18:52
City University of Hong Kong Dep

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics

Research Seminar

Immersive Architectures for the Embodiment of Culture and Heritage

Presented by

Ms. Sarah Kenderdine

Museum Victoria, Australia

Date: 3 September 2009, (Thursday)
Time: 4:30 – 6:00pm
G7619 (Lift 3, 7/F, Green Zone), Academic Building, CityU


This seminar examines a reframing of cultural heritage interpretation in combination with the reformulation of somatic, kinaesthetic and embodied experiences in immersive digital environments. This research has been articulated through a series of museum installations in large-scale interactive cinematic display systems. These systems and their associated visual, sonic and algorithmic techniques offer compelling means for mapping and remediatingtangible, intangible and abstract aspects of culture and heritage landscapes.

Post-processual archaeology provides the point of departure for some of the research presented in this seminar. Christopher Tilley practitioner of Interpretive Archaeology advances a phenomenological understanding of the experience of landscape. His arguments emphasize approaches to archaeological assemblages that go beyond their material manifestation. In his book, Body and Image: explorations in landscape phenomenology (2008) for example, Tilley usefully contrasts iconographic approaches to the study of representation with those of kinaesthetic enquiry. From fissures within the long-established practises of Processural Archaeology there are a growing number of calls that seek to ‘contest traditional predominantly textual modes of thought and action’ and to ‘illuminate and expose the interpretive and artistic qualities of presentation and narration’ using visual media (Cochrane & Russell 2007). Archaeology is increasingly understood more in terms of different relationships with what is left of the past (rather than a discovery of the past). Advocates of media in archaeology (Webmoor 2005, Witmore 2006, Shanks 2006) also suggest broader approaches to interpretation that move toward an archaeological expression of ‘recombinatory poetics’ and Symmetrical Archaeology calls for an ‘entanglement of people-things’.

These arguments provide contexts for exploring the hermeneutic, epistemological and phenomenological encounters with landscapes and cultural assemblages using new technologies. This seminar presents seven major installations addressing a complex mix of human-computer-interface issues for embodiment in large-scale immersive environments. These installations are exhibited on a permanent or semi-permanent basis at museums and galleries, throughout the world. The interactive paradigms described provide future research trajectories that will also be explored in this lecture.


Sarah Kenderdine by training a maritime archaeologist and museum curator and has published several authoritative books on shipwrecks. She currently researches at the forefront of interactive experiences for museums, focused on immersive architectures that promote a kinaesthetic inhabitation and evolving narratives with tangible/intangible aspects of culture and heritage. Sarah is head of Special Projects and The Virtual Room at Museum Victoria, Director of the International Society of Virtual Systems and Multimedia and an Associate Researcher at RMIT University. Since 2000, Sarah’s primary contributions to the field include nine major installations delivered through six distinct immersive architectures. She designed and curated Ancient Hampi: The Hindi Kingdom Brought To Life (Immigration Museum, 2008-2010). This research has been enabled through several major Australian Research Council and State government grants. Her written work since 2000: two books including the co-edited/co-authored Theorizing Digital Cultural Heritage: a critical discourse, MIT Press, 2007; several book chapters and over thirty refereed journal articles and conference papers.

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