Earlier today I visited BBC Cumbria’s Carlisle studio and recorded a piece with Arts Correspondent David Sillito in London. He was interested to hear my views about the possible role of virtual reality within archaeological interpretations of places like Stonehenge.
While only extracts featured in the final broadcast, David was especially interested in the differences between text-based description and visual representation. This is an issue that I frequently encounter when creating pictorial representations of scenes that are set in the distant past.
My conclusion was that while virtual reality does not magically open a window into the past, it can offer a powerful tool when allied to archaeological evidence and theory. In generating creative and immersive experiences, VR demands us to consider multisensory aspects of past lives that are so often overlooked. For example, what did Neolithic people look like? How to depict their clothing, hair, posture and movement? Did they wear body paint, have tattoos, or wear masks? How did they express themselves through posture and movement through architectural spaces?
Ultimately, these uncertainties have to be addressed, as they are central to how people define their identity and relationships with others.