The Future of Heritage in Three Dimensions

John Ristevski introduces CyArk, innovators in 3-D imaging, helping to conserve our threatened global heritage

By CyArk

Pelican glyphs adorn the walls at Chan Chan by CyArkCyArk

Climate change poses a fundamental threat to humanity in the coming century, yet its direct effects can often seem obscure to individuals. However, cultural heritage provides a powerful lens to examine and understand these effects. Because of their symbolic status, the sudden loss or even slow decay of these monuments is an emotionally charged event.

Our monuments were designed and built to withstand a specific climate regime and have withstood the test of time. But now, monuments are exposed to a new and dynamic set of conditions that their creators did not foresee and their current stewards are left to address.  

CyArk Editorial Video: Heritage on the Edge, From the collection of: CyArk
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Taking a photograph on top of Gereza Fort in Kilwa Kisiwani (2018-12) by CyArkCyArk

Heritage on the Edge sits at the intersection of our rapidly changing climate and cultural heritage and examines the growing impact on five world heritage sites on four continents; each with their own unique set of challenges.

3D Documentation workshop practice at Chan Chan by CyArkCyArk

We believe that better data leads to better decision making and is an essential part of the solution for site managers. Accurate baseline documentation provides a stable reference to understand and quantify change, a task essential in understanding the impacts of climate change. As such, CyArk worked with local teams to collect data of specific monuments that will be used as a baseline to understand future impacts as well as providing the background to this story.

Chunakhola mosque in BagerhatCyArk

In conjunction with the data collection, we conducted workshops to train local teams on the use of digital documentation tools to map and monitor heritage. We revisited the island of Rapa Nui for the third time, working with local teams from Ma’u Henua and the Chilean Monuments Commission.  

Rapa Nui Local Documenting a Moai in Rapa Nui (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk

These teams have recently adopted digital documentation tools and are now beginning to deploy them as part of their regular practice. 

Showing LiDAR to a Rapa Nui Local (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk

Our visit served to further build capacity and together we conducted joint documentation of three new sites that are threatened by rising sea levels and coastal erosion. 

Laser scanning Palacio Tschudi at Chan ChanCyArk

Our work at Chan Chan was also a skills-refresh for the Peruvian Institute of Culture who have been working with this technology at the site since 2011 to monitor El Niño-fueled erosion at this mud brick metropolis. 

Scottish ten at Mount RushmoreCyArk

Our visit to Edinburgh was a reunion with our colleagues at Historic Environment Scotland, a partnership that began 10 years ago with the launch of the Scottish Ten project.

The Historic Edinburgh Castle (2019-04) by CyArkCyArk

This joint initiative with The Glasgow School of Art’s School of Simulation and Visualisation documented Scotland’s five World Heritage Sites as well as five iconic international sites. The project was a catalyst for heritage professionals at Historic Environment Scotland who now employ digital documentation techniques regularly on hundreds of projects and are one of the leaders in the field.

Collecting Aerial Data of a Moai in Rapa Nui Using a Drone (2019-01) by CyArkCyArk

3D digital documentation is rapidly becoming an essential part of the toolkit for heritage professionals across the globe.

CyArk uses a laser scanner to document the fragile friezes of Chan Chan by CyArkCyArk

The fidelity of the collected data now has the power to illuminate and quantify the physical effects of climate change and can be invaluable in building a robust conservation and adaptation strategy going forward.

Stabilizing a Ladder in Bagerhat (2019-05) by CyArkCyArk

In the face of this emerging global crisis, bold and radical moves at the global scale are needed to change the direction we are headed. 

CyArk shares results with local community (2019-05) by CyArkCyArk

But we also need immediate action at the local level, empowering those on the front lines of climate change with new tools and data to improve decision making and preserve our past for tomorrow.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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Culture Meets Climate
Bringing artists, scientists, and museums together to reimagine climate data
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