Archive of Places

Using virtual reality to preserve the mundane.

I'm interested in the capacity of 3D data and especially virtual reality as an archival tool. I've been thinking about the way that disadvantaged communities, and in particular queer and trans communities tend to not be in control of the spaces where their communities are centered, that those spaces can be taken away with very little warning, and the amount of history that is lost every time that happens. We've seen this locally in the sudden sale Paradise, a decades-old gay bar, to Novartis, the renovations and restructuring of Senior House, and gentrification in surrounding communities. I've also been thinking about this in the context of climate change. Large portions of Boston are likely going to cease to exist during my lifetime. Historic, important places are going to end up underwater. What is the best way to keep some kind of record of them once they're gone?

Archive of places would be a library of moments and spaces which could be explored via virtual reality. Some of these spaces could be preserved via photogrammetry capture. I like the idea of photogrammetrizing spaces as they are lived in, complete with things left out and their usual level of mess. It forms a sort of ethnography of the mundane, told through clutter.

The dense point cloud from my capture of the Fabrication Lab of the Knapp Center. The data was too messy to create a passable mesh, but the point cloud was nice.

VR walkthrough of a photogrammetry scan of my room.

The Ofrenda is a photogrammetry scan of an installation by Nina Lutz. While the installation no longer lives at the physical Media Lab, a virtual version is immortalized at a networked version of the lab.