Reimagining heritage for a more colourful present

Funded by: ApPEARS (Appearance Printing European Advance Research School) 
Team: Abigail Trujillo Vazquez, Dr Susanne Klein, Dr Xavier Aure, Professor Carinna Parraman

Digital technologies play a vital role in the documentation and preservation of cultural heritage, while the use of both high-resolution imaging and analytical equipment has become the norm in the study of ancient artefacts. As a counterpart, there is a thriving development of applications based on 3D printing for the reproduction of complex artefacts, whereas 2.5D printing methods continue to be improved with the purpose of rendering accurately surface colours and fine details. But, what does it mean to reproduce accurately when the original no longer exists?  When the remains can only be seen in a deteriorated state or only handmade records have been preserved, there is a range of information that has to be gathered and inferred in order to propose a reconstruction. How much of it can be ascertained and how much has to be reimagined? And what influences our imagination when it comes to non-western cultures?  How can the materiality of objects carrying a story shape our behaviour towards them?

This project investigates the relationships between material processes for creating and reproducing appearances, the notions of integrity and authenticity in heritage, and the significance of materiality in artefacts as context dependent. By reproducing the appearance of Mesoamerican polychrome artefacts and wall reliefs documented by early female archaeologists, a range of printmaking methods, 2.5D printing, digital arts and their material aspects are explored. The aims are to expand the potential of hybrid printing technology for public engagement in the 21st century and to reflect on how the heritage industry adapts to social changes including decolonisation processes and the inclusion of gender perspective in research.

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