Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto - OCS, 15th INTERNATIONAL ISKO CONFERENCE

Font Size: 
Tiago Trindade Cruz

Last modified: 2018-02-19


This communication aims to discuss the importance of ICT and Digital Heritage in the strengthening of bilateral relations and on the interaction between civil society and its collective cultural heritage, as well as in the recognition of the specificities and importance of both history and stories of their built environments. In this perspective, it's intended to approach digital technology, highlighting its increasing importance and protagonism in the study of the city and in the preservation of its cultural and architectural heritage. This last aspect is particularly important in the understanding of cities as living entities and for the affirmation of a collective memory, creating a database and a set of significant knowledge, truly accessible and shareable by all individuals. As an aggregating objective, this study highlights the impact of digital technology and its place in contemporaneity in a cultural and social perspective.

With regard to our object of study, and as we know, the use of ICT, framed in new forms of access and knowledge organization, have assumed an increasingly central and essential role. Not only as an instrument of knowledge and dissemination of cities and of the historical continuum, but also as a tool that allows to innovate in the relationship with society, and in particular, with consumers of Cultural Heritage, Material and Intangible. Increasing the experience of its enjoyment, the use of ICT provides the experience of rewarding and potentially more integrative experiences, involving the five senses and enabling an understanding of history and past from a sensitive, sensorial, dynamic and interactive perspective. In this way, the management of content disseminated through ICT is a basic element in the general equation of communication and sustainability of knowledge. In this sense, the use of digital technology in these fields not only widens the scope of research but also contributes to its dissemination in an interactive way to a wider and more diverse audience.

Therefore, the methodological approach we propose is part of an effective understanding of the values ​​and meanings conveyed by the architectural monuments achieved either by historical knowledge - under the guidelines of the International Charters and Conventions (ICOMOS, Council of Europe, UNESCO) history and archeology in their readings and interpretations of the material expressions of human action in the territory. Based on the polysemical meanings of the cities and their cultural heritage, the processes of digital reconstitution are exemplified as a viable, non-intrusive, versatile and completely reversible solution in the processes of knowledge (and its dissemination) of the heritage built in its diachrony and synchrony. On the other hand, this reading assumes novelty for the way in which, in a holistic reading of its object of study, it translates a precise and framed description of knowledge, seeking to dilute the barrier between scientific research and its interpretation and presentation to civil society, contributing to the dissemination of knowledge in an interactive and extended way to various types of public.

One of the methods of digital research that we highlight - in the context of the multiple opportunities offered by ICTs and technological development - is the use of different tools of analysis and interpretation, using the drawing as a research tool (geometric, photographic, constructive, stratigraphic, functional, among others) that provide bases for the three-dimensional registration and reconstitution. By its use, we are allowed to provide civil society and future researchers in the same subject matters with an open source data and information content through the internet and other available means. These make it possible to overcome difficulties related to impossibilities of access to the sources and sites studied, as well as the registration of the current state of conservation of the building (in the particular cases of ruin and transformation).

On the other hand, the implementation of research projects in the field of digital heritage - based on the Stories of Art and Architecture - lead us to the exploration of approaches with the objective of recovering, analyzing and interpreting the lost or invisible / transformed inheritance within the urban landscape. An example of this strategy is the research developed around the convent complexes in the city of Porto, following its transformations after the dissolution of the Religious Orders in Portugal in 1834. Of great relevance for its nature, scale and urban meaning, the analysis of these urban groups allows us to question how digital methodologies and tools enable us to better understand a lost or transformed urban environment, while diffusing its knowledge. By extension, they allow us to question how these strategies are used to reinscribe the absent / transformed historical city in its multiple layers within the contemporary environment and about the connection of civil society with its (in) visible inheritance.

The strong visual component of the above example, as well as projects of this nature, which assume the power of the image (as an end in itself) in a conscious and responsible way - in the way that may condition future interpretations of the objects of study - should always be guided by the maximum of scientific rigor in the processes of reconstitution, resorting permanently to the methodology of the History of Art, with the study of the sources and the stratigraphic reading of the architectural objects. It should be noted that our perspective intends to overcome the vision of Digital Heritage and digital reconstitution processes as simple instruments for the production of images and virtual contents. We look at them in their multiple possibilities and in their capacity for problematization of form and construction. In this sense, these models should be seen as syntheses of complex and in-depth research processes, framing research opportunities to such multifaceted themes as space experience, the materiality of the building and its relationship with the territory of implantation.

On the other hand, and as a conclusion, the widespread diffusion of knowledge, using resources and methods and means transmitted by ICT, also allows cultural agents to be permanently alerted to the need to preserve the built heritage (or its memory) the best conditions of accessibility and enjoyment of their "forms and ideas", that is, of their materiality and its multiple meanings. In conclusion, the multidisciplinary nature of this approach is highlighted, combining the digital humanities, history, art history, architecture and information technologies.