A big part of the work we undertake for our projects involves research into the lives of those who lived in the past. In order to recreate historical sites accurately, we learn as much about people as we do places.
Things like, how and why they designed and constructed their buildings the way they did. How they liked to furnish and decorate them. Who and what they deemed important enough to make statues of. How their societal rules influenced the layouts of their towns, and so on.
Bringing a location back to life via our immersive VR technology also brings back its people and makes them easier to feel a connection with. And the fact is, if you do the job effectively, it makes no difference how far into the past you go.
In LVR’s home town of Melbourne, Australia, there are currently a large number of archaeological digs underway. Peak behind the hoarding and you’ll see whole blocks have been torn down and amongst their rubble, teams of diligent archaeologists are scraping away at the once-buried surfaces beneath, looking for evidence and artefacts of a long-gone era.
The reason? Transport – the Victorian Government is undertaking a major infrastructure overhaul and is building new Metro stations to improve the city’s rail network.
As a result, large swathes of municipal past have been unearthed and our local archaeological colleagues have descended upon these sites to examine and document their finds. Of course, these archaeological digs were all factored into the construction schedule, not just to avoid delaying the project, but also to make the most of this rare opportunity to look into the history of a major city.
They hope to find evidence of Melbourne’s earlier, nineteenth-century migrant communities. Everyday items that expand upon our knowledge of their everyday lives 200 years ago.
Our own focus is not 200 years ago – but back to the ancient world of 2,000 years ago and beyond. Yet though the ancient world is much further back in time, the people who inhabited it are no more removed from ourselves than those who inhabited our cities 200 years ago.
Through our own archaeology and digital recreations, our work aims to connect users with the ancient period in a way that feels immediate.
We aren’t simply rebuilding ancient structures, we’re invoking the people who lived in them, worked in them, and walked amongst them. By recreating their world, we bring about a connection with them and their cultures.
When users put on our VR headsets, they feel present within those spaces and can more easily imagine the lives of previous inhabitants. After all, even with the powerful experience of VR, people will always respond more deeply to things they feel they have a close connection to.
By making a long-destroyed site appear as if complete and present in the here and now, our thoughts surrounding past inhabitants also feel that more immediate and comparable to the present day. This makes it much easier to imagine the people and how they lived. Researched and recreated with care, the ancient past is as tangibly recent as the early nineteenth century being sifted through across Melbourne right now.
Of course, once the upgraded Metro system is completed, the physical past that is currently exposed to the 21st century will once again be lost beneath concrete and steel (progress and the passage of time will tend to do that).
But thanks to the inquisitive minds of archaeologists, we can create a record of them, for future generations to enjoy without having to demolish and dig beneath the present day.