Posts Tagged ‘CyArk’















Photos: Suzanne’s Mom
My husband and I visited one of Sweden’s World Heritage Sites this time last year — the Bronze Age petroglyphs in Tanum. They aren’t included in the CyArk/Google digitized sites but may be someday.

I remember when Google’s motto was Don’t Be Evil, and even now, when the company is far less high-minded, it does sometimes engage in activities that could benefit humanity, including a new preservation collaboration.

Claire Voon writes at Hyperallergic, “Over the last seven years, Google’s Arts & Culture platform has offered web users a growing library of digitized artworks. [It] has now begun a more ambitious project, collaborating with digital archaeologists to spotlight heritage sites threatened by natural disasters, war, tourism, or urbanization.

“Its latest online collection, ‘Open Heritage,’ features digitized, 3D models of over 25 locations from around the world, from the ancient Mayan metropolis of Chichen Itza in Mexico to the protected Watangi Treaty Grounds in New Zealand. Each was created by CyArk, a nonprofit that has been engineering incredibly detailed 3D versions of heritage sites since 2003 with the intention of archiving and freely sharing the results with the public.

“While CyArk’s own website presents many of these models, it does not have the resources to publish all of its data, although people could request files through somewhat troublesome processes. It has also held the copyright for its digital models until now; on Google Art & Culture, they are available under a CC license. …

“Google’s involvement thrusts these files into a global spotlight, inviting anyone with internet access to examine the painted fauna on cave ceilings in Somaliland, or even virtually enter the Ananda Ok Kyaung temple in Bagan, Myanmar. Placed beside the museum collections on Arts & Culture, Open Heritage also argues that these sites, like priceless and carefully guarded paintings and sculptures, deserve the world’s attention.

“Making available these technically astounding models to raise awareness of at-risk sites is a noble idea, but some scholars are hesitant to praise this mission. …

“For art crime specialist Erin Thompson, Open Heritage raises the question of what these digital models leave out. From an architectural perspective, they are packed with an impressive amount of information. A temple in Bagan, for instance, is reconstructed as it appears before and after a 2016 earthquake damaged the 13th-century structure. A detailed, 3D point cloud scan of El Castillo at Chichen Itza illustrates the millimeter precision of the laser technology (LiDAR) CyArk used to scan the site. Yet, the structures leave out the people who once passed through them, and this absence, for Thompson, erases histories vital to our understanding of these sites.

“There’s no hint of human presence — no reminder that people live near them, care about them, and have different interpretations of them than American viewers might,” Thompson told Hyperallergic.

“CyArk wants people to learn about sites they may not know much about, but it also uses the data it captures to support on-site conservation efforts. …

“After the earthquake shook Myanmar in 2016, its team visited Bagan at the request of UNESCO and the Myanmar Department of Archaeology to document the damage. This information was then used to assist stabilization and restoration efforts.

“CyArk’s spokesperson also clarified that Google did not pay CyArk to provide the data sets on Open Heritage, although Google provided financial support as part of the team’s relief effort at Bagan. In addition, the company supported hosting costs ‘associated with making our datasets downloadable through the platform we created,’ the spokesperson said.

“In its current form, Open Heritage only presents a fraction of the models CyArk has created. (While Google claims the group represents the largest 3D collection of heritage data, Sketchfab actually has a far greater gathering of similar models.) The nonprofit is planning to add more sites overtime, with a goal to publish nine more in a second stage.”

The complete Hyperallergic story is here. And to learn about the ancient rock carvings in Sweden, check this Wikipedia page.

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