Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Cultural Heritage Experiences through Socio-personal interactions and Storytelling

Seminar Date:
July 2nd at 2-3pm (note the different time!)

Dr. Maria Roussou
Virtual Reality Designer and Researcher

The CHESS Project [Cultural Heritage Experiences through Socio-personal interactions and Storytelling]

Cultural heritage institutions nowadays face the important challenge of making their collections more engaging to visitors, especially the young ‘digital natives’, while exploiting, in new forms of cultural interactive experiences, the recently developed digital libraries. An approach for cultural heritage institutions (e.g. museums) would be to capitalize on the pervasive use of interactive digital content and systems in order to offer experiences that connect to their visitors’ interests, needs, dreams, familiar faces or places; in other words, to the personal narratives they carry with them and, implicitly or explicitly, build when visiting a cultural site.

The principal objective of CHESS is to research, implement and evaluate an innovative conceptual and technological framework that will enable both the experiencing of personalised interactive stories for visitors of cultural sites and their authoring by the cultural content experts.
Essentially, CHESS proposes to create narrative-driven cultural “adventures” through hybrid structures, which adapt continuously to their visitors, extend over space and time, and involve multiple users with different interfaces.

To achieve this, CHESS will integrate interdisciplinary research in personalization and adaptivity, digital storytelling, interaction methodologies, and narrative-oriented mobile and mixed reality technologies, with a sound theoretical basis in the museological, cognitive, and learning sciences. This tightly integrated framework will be applied and tested in different types of cultural heritage sites; most notably two world-renowned museums, the New Acropolis Museum, and the Cité de l'Espace in France. Access to end-users will be further enhanced through the international User Group, a diverse body of cultural institutions and organizations.

Dr. Maria Roussou is an interaction and virtual reality designer, researcher, educator, and consultant, involved for the past 18 years in projects that combine innovative technology with education and culture. She is founder and co-director of makebelieve, an experience design and consulting company. Previously, she established (in 1998) and directed (1998-2003) the Virtual Reality Department at the Foundation of the Hellenic World (FHW), a cultural heritage institution based in Athens, Greece. At FHW she was responsible for recruiting a team of artists and programmers, setting up the VR exhibits & infrastructure, and managing the research, design and development of the VR programs and related visitor experiences. For most of the nineties (1993-1997), during her extensive work with the CAVE® at the Electronic Visualization Laboratory in Chicago, she focused on the design, application, and evaluation of virtual and digital media environments for education and the representation of cultural information. She has also collaborated with many museums, including contemporary art museums such as the Walker Art Center, to design and create interactive art education material for the Internet.
Maria is an Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Athens, coordinating and teaching (since 2004) the New Technologies & Museums course at the interdisciplinary Master of Arts program in Museum Studies of theUniversity of Athens. She also teaches the final year Human Computer Interaction course at theDepartment of Informatics and Telecommunications (since 2008).
She holds a PhD in Computer Science (VR/HCI) from the University of London (UCL),, a Master in Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Electronic Media from the School of Art and Design, University of Illinois at Chicago, a Masters of Science (M.Sc) in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science.

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