Sunday, August 27, 2006

Virtual church

It is Sunday. For some people it is the day of the Lord and the day to go to church. Many people visit a church at Christmas time or when they are on holiday. Today I vited a virtual church.

As a service to tourists, the Dutch public broadcast company KRO (from Roman Catholic origin) has created a virtual tour of a church. On the tour people are shown the interior of the church such as the altar, baptismal font and the confessional box. In the background you will hear proper Gregorian chant. You are shown a lay-out of a typical roman catholic church with a legend of 10 attributes. Once you click on one of the legend points, you are presented with a visual and an explanation of the attribute. It is a nice service to tourists.

I have seen more of this kind of presentations in the past. Through my friend Anja Bobrowicz, who is a lecturer at the University of Kent, I received a DVD, produced by one of her students, with a virtual presentation of the cathedral of Canterbury. I enjoyed it very much as the DVD gave a good impression of the cathedral. You could move through the church and change directions to left and right, look up and down and zoom in and out to take in a detail.

One of the pioneer projects in this field was the reconstruction of the Abbey of Cluny. In 2000 I visited the site of the Abbey of Cluny and found a ruin, pillaged for building materials by anti-clerical French revolutionaries in the early 19th century. So there was not much to see. Of course there are drawings and models, but those are representations , but it is not the reality of what was once the brightest architectural jewel of 11th-century Christendom, an immense Romanesque celebration of stone and light. But thanks to computer power, the abbey was digitextured and became a cyber abbey. You can wonder through it with Gregorian chant in the back. But you could also examine a frieze high in the virtual vaults. The simulation was made in the early nineties by IBM in co-operation with the Musee d'Ochier.

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Blog Posting Number: 489

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