CBHC / RCAHMW > About Us > Digital Past Conference > Speakers and Abstracts 2021

Speakers and Abstracts 2021

Keynote speakers

Louise Barker and Kieran Craven (CHERISH: Climate, Heritage and Environments of Reefs, Islands, and Headlands)

Drones, Boats, Lasers and Ropes. Studying the Past, Present and Near Future Impacts of Climate Change on Coastal Heritage Sites and Landscapes in Wales and Ireland

Louise Barker of the Royal Commission and Dr Kieran Craven of Geological Survey Ireland will introduce the EU-Funded Ireland-Wales CHERISH – Climate Change and Coastal Heritage Project.  This brings together a multidisciplinary team of archaeologists, geologists and environmental scientists using an integrated methodology of survey and investigation, to record and monitor the impacts of climate change at a network of coastal and maritime sites in Wales and Ireland.

Louise Barker is a Senior Investigator with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and archaeologist on the CHERISH project. She has worked as an archaeologist since graduating from Newcastle University in 1996, starting her career in contract archaeology before joining, what was then English Heritage in 1999  and subsequently the Royal Commission in 2004. Louise specialises in landscape survey and interpretation, and has worked on a wide range of sites and landscapes spanning prehistory to the present day.

Dr Kieran Craven is a marine geoscientist and the CHERISH project co-ordinator for the Geological Survey Ireland since July 2018. He graduated with a BSc in Geoscience and Environmental Biology from the University of St Andrews in 2006 and completed his PhD in Geology from Trinity College Dublin in 2013 investigating the impacts of sea-level rise on coastal environments. Kieran has worked as a lecturer in both Trinity College Dublin and Maynooth University, and with the INFOMAR programme of the Geological Survey, analysing acoustic technologies to interpret seabed and subsurface environments.

Drew Ellery (The Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre and Education Trust)

Coming in from the Cold’: Democratising Community Engagement and Collections Development through Digital Skill Sharing

How can digital skill-sharing democratise collaborative practices between under-represented communities and collecting institutions? Can digital storytelling provide communities with a platform to curate and tell their own stories? In this paper I will explore these questions, which have been raised by our HLF-supported project Coming in from the Cold. I will share our experience of the potential of using digital technologies and our holistic approach to community engagement and collection development.
I will also discuss the challenges posed by quality control, ethics, GDPR and copyright, as we attempt to develop an archive (at Manchester Central Library) that more accurately reflects the diversity of Greater Manchester.

Drew Ellery is the Digital Officer at the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE Centre. He began his career as an Archives Trainee with the National Archives – Skills for the Future traineeship programme. His work focuses on using digitisation and digital technologies to increase access to archive collections at Manchester Central Library. He has recently completed an MA in Museum and Gallery Studies at the University of Manchester.

Zhirong Li and Changyu Diao (Cultural Heritage Research Institute, Zhejiang University)

Remaking the Past

Grottoes, consisting of complex structures, statues, murals, and inscriptions, are among the most challenging cultural heritage types to practice digital preservation and exhibition technologies. Collaborated with the Yungang Grotto Academy, we built the world’s first portable real-size 3d-printed grotto replica. Collaborated with the Longmen Grotto Academy, we created the real-size 3d-printed niche replicas with the finest details. Both of the results exhibited in museums in China, marking new methods of digital preserving and remaking the past.

Changyu Diao and Zhirong Li are both the vice deans of the Cultural Heritage Institute of Zhejiang University, China. They lead a digital research and application team together for 10 years. They have engaged in cultural heritage digitization research, including 3D digitization, information management, information processing and analysis, virtual exhibition, digital museum, 3D printing, etc. Some of the research achievements represent the highest level of the related areas in China, which have been successfully applied to many sites and museums.

Will Megarry (Queen’s University Belfast; ICOMOS Climate Change and Cultural Heritage Working Group)

Heritage on the Edge: The Role of Heritage in Increasing Global Climate Ambition and Action

This presentation will provide an overview of the Heritage on the Edge project, a collaboration between ICOMOS, CyArk and Google Arts and Culture. It will explore a range of themes related to climate change and cultural heritage including climate communication and urgency and the value of digital technologies to record heritage at risk. It will introduce aims, objectives and project narratives before focusing on some of the sites included in the project, including the Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara in Tanzania and Rapa Nui National Park. It will conclude with a summary of web analytics and feedback from project partners, exploring the efficacy of projects like Heritage on the Edge to bring about change on a local, national and international level.

Will Megarry is a landscape archaeologist, geographical information systems (GIS) and heritage management specialist with over 15 years commercial and academic experience. He has a particular interest in the application and transferability of geospatial technologies to archaeology and cultural heritage site management and protection. In recent years, his research has explored the intersections between cultural heritage and climate change with a particular focus on utilising cultural heritage as an asset to raise awareness and encourage climate action. He is also an active field archaeologist with an ongoing project exploring island landscapes in Neolithic Shetland.

Keith Pendergrass (Harvard Business School)

An Argument for Environmentally Sustainable Digital Preservation

Our collective actions are rapidly degrading our natural environment and we must shift to sustainable models in all aspects of society to avert the most disastrous consequences. This talk will argue for a swift, yet thoughtful, transition to sustainable digital preservation that takes into account the full life-cycle environmental impacts of the information and communication technology on which our digital preservation efforts rely. By coming together as a global community of practice, we can substantially reduce the negative impacts of our work while continuing to secure our digital legacy and provide successful outcomes for our communities.

Keith Pendergrass is the digital archivist for Baker Library Special Collections at Harvard Business School, where he develops and oversees workflows for born-digital materials. His recent research with Walker Sampson, Tessa Walsh, and Laura Alagna explores ways to integrate environmental sustainability principles into digital archives and preservation standard practice. He holds an MSLIS from Simmons College and a BA in History from Amherst College.

Chao Tayiana (African Digital Heritage)

The Future of History: Strengthening Public Histories through Digital Interventions

In this talk we explore the role that public digital history is playing in changing perspectives on African pasts. These audience led approaches to history and memory making are drawing in new audiences and creating much needed spaces for dialogue at different levels of society. We ask, what tools do we need to encourage and strengthen this culture of public participation in a sector previously dominated by specialist voices and Eurocentric paradigms? How do we measure the impact of these digital collections and interactions? And how can museums and cultural institutions become spaces that facilitate these discussions?

Chao Tayina Maina is a Kenyan digital heritage specialist and digital humanities scholar working at the intersection of culture and technology.  She is the founder of African Digital Heritage a Kenya based non-profit organisation founded to encourage a more critical, holistic and knowledge-based approach to the design and implementation of digital solutions within African cultural heritage. She is also a co-founder of the online initiative, Museum of British Colonialism and a co-founder of the Open Restitution Africa project. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Reuters, BBC news, BBC Arts, Ntv, KBC and 3Sat.

Diane Zorich (Smithsonian Institution)

Expanding the Dimensions of Digitization: The Smithsonian Experience

The Smithsonian’s history of collections digitization extends over four decades. Its digitization efforts have changed dramatically over this time period in response to the scale of our holdings, emerging technologies, and ever-expanding public needs. In 2009, the Institution established a centralized Digitization Program Office (DPO) to work across all Smithsonian museums to increase the quality, quantity, and impact of digitized collections. This presentation highlights several programs in the Smithsonian’s Digitization Program Office that strive to meet the moment, creating high-quality digitized collections that are sustainable, that can be delivered on current and emerging digital platforms, and that be repurposed for future needs.

Diane Zorich is director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Digitization Program Office where she leads an expert team in digitizing Smithsonian collections to maximize their impact for the public. She oversees mass digitization, 3D digitization, and assessment activities that develop and improve digitization processes across the Institution. Before joining the Smithsonian, she was a consultant with over two decades of experience in information management, digitization, and digital policy in cultural organizations.

Tom Pert and David Thomas (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales)

Preview of the New Coflein Website

Over the past year the Royal Commission has been developing the systems for managing the information held in the National Monument Record of Wales. This information includes an inventory of around 120,000 sites from across Wales alongside an extensive archive of photographs, maps and other supporting information. The session will offer the opportunity to preview the new system and includes a demonstration of the enhanced functionality and services provided by the re-developed public front end Coflein.

Tom Pert is the Online Development Manager at the Royal Commission. He is responsible for developing the website and other services, and also leads the innovation strand of the People’s Collection. He is manager of the Commission’s Digital Delivery project.

David Thomas is Head of Public Services at the Royal Commission. He has worked at the Commission for over twenty years and was part of the team that created the on-line service Coflein in partnership with the former Scottish Royal Commission. He is currently Convener of the Forum for Information Standards in Heritage.

Digital Survey

Xavier Aure (University of West of England)

An Affordable Automated 3D Surface Scanner: The Case of Canaletto’s ‘The Grand Canal, Ascension Day’

We present an affordable and automated 3D scanner to record the structure and colour of planar surfaces of artworks. The system is based on the combination of photogrammetric and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) data and generates high-resolution digital reproductions. Seamless registration of RTI images to the photogrammetric mesh data produces a variety of 2D and 3D outputs for documentation and visualisation purposes. The design is developed for the recording of paintings of any size and in situ. We scanned an 18th century canvas painting by Venetian artist Canaletto to demonstrate initial results.

Emily La Trobe-Bateman and Bob Johnston (Sheffield University) and John G. Roberts (Snowdonia National Park Authority)

LiDAR Applications for Public Engagement, Landscape Research and Conservation in the Carneddau, Northern Snowdonia

A high resolution LiDAR survey has been undertaken to support the Carneddau Landscape Partnership scheme. The paper will summarise the aims, actions and activities of the scheme and their intended outcomes for places, people and communities. The use of and applications for the data will be discussed, with an emphasis on historic environment. Preliminary observations will be presented in combination with the findings of recent lidar-based doctoral research carried out in collaboration between the Snowdonia National Park Authority and the University of Sheffield. This has highlighted the importance of the exceptionally well-preserved complexes of prehistoric settlements and fields in the Carneddau.

Busisiwe Chikomborero (Chiko) Ncube Makore (University of Salford) and Lukman E Mansuri (Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology Surat)

BIM Technologies and Urban Heritage in the City of Surat, India

This paper discusses the benefit of applying digital technologies, and in particular Building Information Modelling (BIM), in supporting heritage conservation in the historic city of Surat in India.

Digital Data

Einion Gruffudd (National Library of Wales)

The National Broadcast Archive (in Welsh with simultaneous translation)

An introduction to the National Broadcast Archive, explaining the latest developments, the huge archive presented to the National Library by BBC Wales, the other activities underway, including working with ITV and S4C, digitization work, cataloguing, metadata development and the range of public engagement activities planned, but put on hold because of the pandemic. The Broadcast Archive will open up sites across Wales to ensure that as many people as possible have access to this audio-visual feast, including material which cannot be put online due to rights restrictions.

Victoria Guzman (Observatorio Políticas Culturales)

Biases in Digital Technologies: Gendered Identities in Museum Data

Although they present themselves as natural, technologies, digital systems, online databases and even artificial intelligence carry within them our own biases and blind spots. In a team of researchers designing a new methodology for museum statistics in Chile, the difficulties associated with including gendered identities beyond the male/female binary in public visitors’ metrics. An online database of objects and artworks belonging to the country’s more important museums has similar limitations. I will explore the complexities associated with gendered data in relation to Chilean museums, and with recognizing and accommodating identities that lie outside what has been shaped as “the norm”.

Nicholas Pitt (University of New South Wales)

Archaeology near Me: Geographically Exploring Grey-literature Report Collections

This paper describes the practical and ethical issues around the creation of Archaeology Near Me (ANM, http://archaeology-near-me.com/), a new way to explore heritage and archaeology grey literature from the Australian state of New South Wales. ANM presents links to reports hosted elsewhere through an online map interface. This opens the material up not only for better use in the commercial heritage management sector, but also makes possible wider use in public history and education. However, the project also faces ethical challenges, particularly in how it can avoid reproducing some of the settler-colonial legacies inherent in parts of Australian heritage management.

Digital Heritage

Davar Ardalan (IVOW – intelligent voices of wisdom)

Teaching Heritage to Artificial Intelligence through Storytelling

AI is reshaping society and changing how we live, learn, and work. In this talk, I’ll focus on well-documented gender biases in AI and machine learning datasets, and illustrate the power of storytelling in helping machines learn about the pioneering roles of women today and yesterday. IVOW’s digital storyteller Sina is a young conversational AI, now a prototype on Google Assistant. She loves learning about human history and then sharing those stories with others. That’s what gives Sina purpose. Go ahead ask Sina to tell you about Shirley Chisholm or Marie Curie.

Moshe Caine and Doron Altratz (Hadassah Academic College Jerusalem)

The Virtual Pilgrim

The crusaders notion of a ‘New Jerusalem’, the physical reconstruction of the holy city of Jerusalem in Europe, has been reversed here and implemented via virtual reality technologies applied to two communities who emigrated and reconstructed their home and places of worship.
The aim is to gauge whether digital technology can bridge the gap between the physical and the emotional. To enhance the relationship between lost and reborn communities, the old and the New Jerusalem. The paper outlines considerations, limitations, and solutions undertaken in the digital recreation of the structures and fusing the technical challenge with the desired emotional impact.

Sarah Colley (University of Leicester)

Truth, Ethics and Expressive techniques: Making Digital Videos to Record and Interpret Archaeology and Cultural Heritage

I will draw on my practical experiences as both a professional archaeologist and a digital video producer to consider ideas about truth, representation, ethics and the role of expressive techniques when making online videos about archaeology and heritage for research, education and public outreach.

Todd Ogle, David Hicks and Thomas Tucker (Virginia Tech)

Accessing the Past through Virtual Reality: First World War Landscapes

If this place could talk, what would it tell us? This question guides the research of a transdisciplinary team of faculty and students at Virginia Tech, who employ a variety of data collection tools from LiDAR to photogrammetry, to build immersive experiences designed to help learners gain an understanding of the experiences of those who were here before us, as well as the processes that archaeologists and historians employ in developing their accounts of landscapes, events and people from the past.

Paul Quigley, Jessica Taylor, Alex O’Dea, Kenny Barnes and Emily Humes (Virginia Tech)

Extended Reality, Inclusive History: Exploring Diverse Campus Histories with Extended Reality Technology

This presentation critically evaluates the use of Extended Reality in presenting history. It is based on a transdisciplinary project exploring the hidden histories of Virginia Tech as the university approaches its 150th anniversary. Focusing on one of the project’s principal products—a headset-based Extended Reality tour of a plantation home, the oldest building on campus—we reflect on the design process, paying special attention to two themes: (1) the advantages and disadvantages of Extended Reality for those seeking to diversify both content and audience in cultural heritage projects; (2) the way specific technologies shape the kinds of stories we tell.

Amy Shakespeare (Cornwall Museums Partnership)

wAVE Immersive Experiences in Museums

The wAVE (AVE = Augmented and Virtual Experiences) Immersive Experiences in Museums Project is funded by the Coastal Communities Fund. It brings together Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly’s coastal communities, heritage centres and academic experts to develop new and engaging virtual, augmented and immersive reality experiences within the five participating communities of Bude, Looe, St Agnes, Porthcurno and the Isles of Scilly. wAVE has been developed by CIOSLEP, Cornwall Museums Partnership, and Falmouth University. It aims to use Cornwall’s heritage to support digital innovation and economic diversification in five coastal communities by maximising Cornwall’s digital infrastructure, skills, and heritage.


Davar Ardalan, Chamisa Edmo, Tracy Monteith, Kee Malesky and Nikki McLay (IVOW – intelligent voices of wisdom)

The Indigenous Knowledge Graph (IKG)

Davar Ardalan and a team of cultural experts, engineers, and researchers from IVOW (Intelligent Voices of Wisdom) will present a workshop on their Indigenous Knowledge Graph. This project used recipes and traditions from Native American heritage to demonstrate how creating structure around stories can expand reasoning and cultural intelligence in machines and conversational AIs. IKG will be presented in the voice of IVOW’s chatbot Sina. Available in prototype via Google Assistant, Sina offers stories and insights about under-represented peoples, cultures, and perspectives, including great women in science. Ask her, Who discovered the coronavirus? https://www.ivow.ai/uploads/1/0/5/3/105390607/whitepaper_ikg_ivow_1.pdf

Valentina Bachi (Photoconsortium), John Balean (TopFoto), Erik Buelinckx (KIK-IRPA), David Iglésias Franch (CRDI Ajuntament de Girona), Antonella Fresa (Promoter SRL) and Fred Truyen (KU Leuven)

Saving Collective Visual History (an online event organised by Photoconsortium)

Collections of analogue material that depict our collective visual history is deteriorating with urgent need of saving for future generations. If we can’t save the analogue, we can’t digitize it. When digitized, what do we do with the original objects? Lack of funds, difficult planning and unclear post-digitization actions, without obvious benefit, make it challenging for archives to move into digital transformation. This 1-hour workshop will discuss the issues and solutions encountered by public and private photographic archives to leverage digital technologies for preservation and enhancement of heritage photographs. This discussion is aimed at institutions dedicated to cultural heritage.

Nicolas Gutkowski, Doug Bowman, Todd Ogle and Carlos Augusto Bautista Isaza (Virginia Tech)

Designing Head-Worn AR Experiences for Cultural Heritage

Cultural heritage sites must balance historic preservation and providing information in an engaging way so people can learn of their significance. Tour guides can be useful in providing information without detracting from the context of the site, but some sites may lack the resources to provide this option. Head-worn augmented reality (AR) offers a solution, allowing visitors to directly experience enhanced real-world spaces, historical interpretation, and artifacts. We offer an overview of our work so far in designing cultural heritage experiences for head-worn AR devices, and lessons learned related to guiding the user, creating engaging content, and supporting individual experiences.

Daniel Hunt (Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales), Rob Shaw (The Discovery Programme: Centre for Archaeology and Innovation Ireland) and James Barry (Geological Survey Ireland)

Droning on: A Practical Introduction to Drones and Archaeology

The amount of people using using drones (or UAVs) as a survey tool has sky-rocketed in recent years due to their ever-increasing accessibility and ability to capture quality imagery and 3D data for archaeological landscapes and monuments. But what equipment is needed for a successful survey flight, and what permissions do pilots need before even considering undertaking taking off? Led by two CAA/IAA certified UAV pilots, this workshop will introduce the basics of using UAVs for archaeological survey and how to use them safely, responsibly and legally. We will also discuss how to use UAVs to collect, process and store data as well as some of the challenges currently faced by heritage professionals when using them.

Marinos IoannidesRobert S. Davies, Francesco Ripanti, Douglas Pritchard (Cyprus University of Technology), Martin Schaich (ArcTron3D GmbH) and Petros Patias (University of Thessaloniki)

How Complex is 3D Digitisation in Cultural Heritage?

The 3D digitisation of Cultural Heritage (CH) assets is a challenging procedure and involves different multidisciplinary experts. Previous research focuses on individual considerations, such as 2D and 3D resolution and different types of presentation of metadata. The ideal approach would be to establish and retain a more thorough and comprehensive record, integrating aesthetics, historical, social and environmental significances, among others, with the dimensional record. Combined with the specifications of recording technology, digitisation is a very complicated process. This event aims to discuss best practices, brainstorm, and exchange know-how with intersectoral experts regarding “complexity” in 3D digitisation and -modelling.  

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