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    Arts and Culture VR/AR: Using Augmented & Virtual Reality to Increase Cultural Awareness

    Arts and Culture VR/AR: Using Augmented & Virtual Reality to Increase Cultural Awareness

    Tracy Watson


    11 min read

    virtual reality impact on culture

    Many businesses are already adopting both virtual and augmented across industries, but we can also use these technologies to enrich our understanding of art and culture. Given the immersive experience offered by AR and VR, we can understand why educational and cultural institutions can start incorporating them to allow people better to understand works of art and culturally important events. Today we will tell you how augmented and virtual reality impact culture and make learning fun and enjoyable. 

    Augmented Reality for Cultural Education 

    While there may be an abundance of museums and galleries for culture lovers to attend, a lot of the information contained inside the paintings and artifacts is still inaccessible to the viewers. For example, an augmented reality cultural heritage app was created to allow people to enjoy all of the frescoes paintings at the Basilica of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, a Late Medieval church situated in Galatina, a small town in the south of Italy. Each scene symbolizes a story that needs to be read and interpreted. This monument may be considered an opened book with more reading levels, such as stories from the Holy Scriptures, history of the aristocratic committee, constructive vicissitudes, stylistic features of the many artists who worked there, iconographic program, and habits of the past.

    Thanks to the augmented reality application, attendees can better interact with the history of the paintings since the app makes them come alive playing some of the medieval musical instruments depicted in the frescoes cycles, virtual restoration hypothesis based on the evidence came to light after the last restoration campaign and many other things. This is just one of the many benefits of augmented reality, and AR development companies can create many other applications so that this technology can also be used in many other settings. Let’s explore this in the next section. 

    arts and culture vr

    Augmented Reality in Museums and Art Galleries 

    The possibilities of using AR in museums span the gamut. The most obvious way is to give people explanations of pieces simply. This allows visitors better to appreciate the work and the meanings behind it. Museums could even use it to display digital versions of artists next to their work. These 3D personas are then able to provide narration. The National Museum of Singapore offers a very instructive use case of the power of AR. They were running an installation called “Story of the Forest,” which consisted of 69 images from the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings.

    These have been turned into three-dimensional animations that visitors can interact with. Visitors download an app and can then use the camera on their phone or tablet to explore the paintings. What’s more interesting is that they added a gamification element where visitors can hunt for and ‘catch’ items, just like in Pokemon Go. In this case, these items are the plants and animals within the paintings. This makes for a much more exciting time for children and adults as well.

    Virtual Reality and Visual Culture

    In the previous section, we talked about using AR to interact with the past and historical artifacts, but VR takes this to a whole new level. Imagine learning about Pompei, ancient Rome, and other cities and walking the streets and seeing how those places looked during a specific time period. Virtual reality gives students, historians, and enthusiasts alike an amazing opportunity to travel back in time and experience history like never before. We already see projects from MediaEvo that created a virtual representation of the town of Otranto, as it looked in the middle ages. 

    This gave visitors a chance to see Otratno’s 11th-century Otranto Cathedral, with a rose window and ornate mosaic flooring when it was newly built. Since field trips to such cultural sites are usually unavailable, VR solutions offer students and teachers to experience these places as if they were actually there. 

    It is also possible to explore countries and its culture through AR as well. Skywelll Software has recently worked on a similar project for Barni, a brand of biscuits, mainly distributed by Mondelēz International. When customers bought packages of Barni, they could scan a QR code and discover the attractions of all parts of the country in augmented reality. Customers could buy various packs of Barni biscuits and assemble an entire map of Ukrainian cultural sites. This project was beneficial for both consumers and the client since it allowed everybody to celebrate the beauty of Ukraine. 

    augmented reality events

    Virtual Reality for Cultural Heritage 

    The immersive nature of virtual reality allows us to live through experiences that otherwise get lost when we read about them in textbooks. For example, imagine there was a way to stand in the footsteps of an Indigenous person on the shores of Botany Bay the day before Captain Cook first arrived in Sydney. This is possible thanks to an interactive and immersive virtual reality world where you can do just that. Cultural anthropologists have been using digital technologies to engage young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with their history and cultures, culminating in launching a software development kit called Virtual Songlines.

    Another great benefit of virtual reality is the level of detail anthropologists, and other researchers can achieve when reconstructing various events. For example, if we return to the Australian aboriginal history mentioned earlier, it is possible to reconstruct topographically accurate landscapes, then take the soil maps to generate the biomes of a place. You can then add more information such as bush medicine and bush foods, hunting grounds, tracks, and campsites. It is possible to design the real-world biomes that have existed and sustained both traditional owners and wildlife since time immemorial.

    Virtual Reality in Pop Culture 

    virtual reality in pop culture

    While virtual reality allows history to come alive, it is making its way into our pop culture as well. A great example of this is the film Ready Player One. It focuses on a young boy who dives into a VR world, called OASIS, to find a special Easter Egg, which will give the finder a huge fortune. While the movie features some futuristic technology, it’s not that far off from where we are now. For example, the headset used by the main character looks like a pair of fancy ski goggles. Light, wireless, and apparently working without any external hardware, it can transport you to the Oasis’s virtual world wherever you are.

    Current-generation VR headsets can’t quite match that form factor, but we are getting closer. Granted, high-end headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift still require an external computer to run VR experiences, and more affordable solutions like Samsung’s Gear VR are based on a user’s phone. Since virtual reality technology is rapidly evolving, headsets and computers that can support VR are becoming more accessible to regular users, which is why we can expect greater adoption of this technology as time goes on. 

    AR and VR Cultural Heritage Applications Offer Unmatched Experiences 

    We provided some examples of arts and cultural VR and VR in popular culture. These technologies have become so popular because they provide technologies that cannot be found anywhere else. However, to take full advantage of all the benefits offered by AR and VR, you will need to partner with an experienced development company that can make your vision a reality. Skywell Software has extensive experience developing both AR and VR applications for some of the leading brands in the world. This experience has allowed us to accumulate insider knowledge and expertise to actualize even the most daring visions. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you. 

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