Should museums be recreating the past?
The past is considered an integral part of both individual and communal representations of identity. This is considered so important that people cut off from the past by migration or destruction, either deliberate or accidental in war often recreate, even ‘recreate’ what could or should have been there but never existed. (Corsane 2005). This can be seen in the interpretive 3D models of Pompeii, prior to the volcanic eruption. These scans have merits in their architectural models the rest is artistic speculation. What Sinclair appears to consider is the very real chance of preserving a tangible piece of history in the form of 3D models. As Sinclair suggests there has been some type of preservation by replication since Roman times. There is the opportunity to recreate culturally important objects using superior software to replicate of their original condition. An example of this could be Muiredach’s High Cross, with over one thousand years of weathering pollution and human contact particularly in the last forty; there is a marked deterioration seen on the original. Yes there will be detractors, but at what stage do you intervene, replace it with a replica, and preserve the original in specialist conditions for future generations, as in Clonmacnoise. Political and cultural memories are based on the durable carriers of symbols and material representations. These memories can be passed on from generation to generation integrating those with no experience of an event via modes of education. (Assmann, 2002.P25.)
It could be suggested as a member of D.R.I. Jeffrey’s is playing the devil’s advocate. He in his own right is known for his work in digital replication in art and heritage. He asks the question do digital objects exist. This is because he considers them a series of data, computer programs and software graphics. Jeffrey’s use of terms can be confusing at times, his idea of the weirdness of the digital world, almost a ‘forth’ dimension. This concept is already well known in early European mythologies of liminal or ‘otherworld’s’. Jeffrey’s also uses the term ‘born digital reconstructions’ (Jeffrey 2015). If it’s a reconstruction, surely some form of tangible information would have to be captured in order to reconstruct the object; even a series of photographs or the foundations of a ruin. Is that really born digital? The question may have been asked regarding born digital interpretations. Jeffrey’s wonders ‘was possible to imbue the digital with its own aura (Jeffrey 2015). That would depend on the public perception of the artefact[s]; objects that could capture the imagination could gain an aura against a more mundane specimen. There are several occasions in the past were the replicas gained their own aura’s, the 3D replicas of Tutankhamun’s treasures as an example toured the world. (Jones, 2010).
Assmann Aleida, four formats of memory, from the individual to collective constructions of the past. Cultural Memory and Historical Consciousness in the German-Speaking World Since 1500, Emden, Christian / Midgley, David (eds.) ‘The Fragile Tradition’, Cambridge 2002
Corsane Gerard, Heritage, Museums and Galleries: An Introductory Reader. Routledge New York London 2005
Jones Jonathan, Sunday 24 October 2010 20.00 BST https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2010/oct/24/egyptian-replicas-manchester-tutankhamun
Sinclair Mark, Should Museums be recreating the Past, 20th July 2016, https://www.creativereview.co.uk/should-museums-be-recreating-the-past/.
Stuart Jeffrey Challenging Heritage Visualisation: Beauty, Aura and DemocratisationGlasgow School of Art, Open Archaeology. Volume 1, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6560, DOI: 10.1515/opar-2015-0008, May 2015.