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  • Translator: Carolina Casado Parras

  • Why do people deliberately destroy cultural heritage?

  • By doing so,

  • do they believe they're erasing our history?

  • Our cultural memory?

  • It's true that we are losing cultural heritage to erosion

  • and natural disasters,

  • but this is something that is simply difficult to avoid.

  • I'm here to show you today how we can use pictures --

  • your pictures --

  • to reclaim the history that is being lost

  • using innovative technology

  • and the effort of volunteers.

  • In the early 20th century,

  • archaeologists discovered hundreds of statues and artifacts

  • at the ancient city of Hatra,

  • in northern Iraq.

  • Statues like this one were found in fragments,

  • some of them missing their heads or arms,

  • yet the clothing that they are wearing

  • and their pose

  • can still tell us their story.

  • For example,

  • we believe that by wearing a knee-length tunic

  • and open bare feet,

  • this was representative of a priest.

  • However, with a closer look at this particular piece,

  • we can see that this tunic being worn was elaborately decorated,

  • which has led many researchers to believe

  • this was actually a statue of a king performing his religious functions.

  • When the Mosul Cultural Museum opened in 1952 in northern Iraq,

  • this statue, as well as others,

  • were placed there to preserve them for future generations.

  • Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003,

  • a few statues and artifacts were relocated to Baghdad,

  • but this statue remained.

  • Then in February of last year, a video was released,

  • and it instantly went viral.

  • Maybe some of you remember seeing it.

  • Here's a short clip.

  • (Video) (Singing in Arabic)

  • (Singing ends)

  • Not a very pleasant sight, right?

  • Did you notice anything familiar in the video?

  • There it is.

  • There is that very statue,

  • as it was toppled over,

  • breaking into pieces.

  • When Matthew Vincent and I saw this video,

  • we were shocked.

  • Since we are archaeologists using innovative technology

  • for digital preservation,

  • an idea sprung to mind.

  • Maybe we can crowdsource the images that were taken of these artifacts

  • before they were destroyed,

  • to create digital reconstructions.

  • If we can do that,

  • maybe we can put them into a virtual museum

  • to tell that story.

  • And so two weeks after we saw this video,

  • we started the project called Project Mosul.

  • Remember the pictures of the statue I showed you before?

  • This is actually the crowdsourced reconstruction of it

  • before it was destroyed.

  • Now, many of you may be wondering,

  • how exactly does this work?

  • Well, the key to this technology is called photogrammetry,

  • and it was invented here, in Germany.

  • It is the technology that allows us to use two-dimensional images

  • taken of the same object from different angles

  • to create a 3D model.

  • I know you may be thinking this sounds like magic -- but it's not.

  • Let me show you how it works.

  • Here are two crowdsourced images of the same statue.

  • What the computer can do

  • is it can detect similar features between the photographs --

  • similar features of the object.

  • Then, by using multiple photos,

  • in this case, it can begin to reconstruct the object in 3D.

  • In this case,

  • you have the position of the cameras when each image was taken,

  • shown in blue.

  • Now, this is a partial reconstruction, I admit,

  • but why would I say partial?

  • Well, simply because the statue was positioned against a wall.

  • We don't have photographs taken of it from the back.

  • If I wanted to complete a full digital reconstruction of this statue,

  • I would need a proper camera,

  • tripods, proper lighting,

  • but we simply can't do that with crowdsourced images.

  • Think about it:

  • How many of you, when you visit a museum,

  • take photographs of all parts of the statue,

  • even the back side of it?

  • Well, maybe if some of you find Michelangelo's David interesting,

  • I guess --

  • (Laughter)

  • But the thing is,

  • if we can find more images of this object,

  • we can improve the 3D model.

  • When we started the project,

  • we started it with the Mosul Museum in mind.

  • We figured we may get a few images,

  • some people interested,

  • make one or two virtual reconstructions,

  • but we had no idea that we had sparked something that would grow so quickly.

  • Before we knew it,

  • we realized it was obvious:

  • we could apply this same idea to lost heritage anywhere.

  • And so, we decided to change the name of the project to Rekrei.

  • Then, in the summer of last year,

  • "The Economist" magazine's media lab reached out to us.

  • They asked us,

  • "Hey, would you like us to build a virtual museum

  • to put the reconstructions back inside,

  • to tell the story?"

  • Can you imagine us saying no?

  • Of course not.

  • We said yes!

  • We were so excited.

  • This was exactly the initial dream of that project.

  • And so now,

  • any of you can experience RecoVR Mosul on your phone,

  • using Google Cardboard

  • or a tablet or even YouTube 360.

  • Here is a screenshot from the virtual museum.

  • And there it is ...

  • the partial reconstruction of the statue,

  • as well as the Lion of Mosul,

  • the first reconstruction completed by our project.

  • Although the video doesn't explicitly show the Lion of Mosul being destroyed,

  • we have many other examples of large artifacts being destroyed

  • that were simply too large to have been stolen.

  • For example,

  • the Gate of Nimrud in northern Iraq.

  • This is a digital reconstruction from before,

  • and this is actually during the destruction.

  • Or the Lion of Al-Lāt, in Palmyra, Syria:

  • before ...

  • and after.

  • Although virtual reconstructions are primarily the main focus

  • of our project,

  • some people have been asking the question:

  • Can we print them in 3D?

  • We believe 3D printing doesn't offer a straightforward solution

  • to lost heritage.

  • Once an object is destroyed,

  • it's gone.

  • But 3D printing does offer an addition to tell that story.

  • For example, I can show you here ...

  • There is the statue from Hatra

  • and the Lion of Mosul.

  • (Applause)

  • Thank you.

  • Now, if you look closely,

  • you'll notice that there are some parts that have been printed in color,

  • and some parts that are in white or gray.

  • This part was added simply to hold the statues up.

  • This works the same way if you visit a museum,

  • and a statue is found in fragments;

  • it's put together for the people to see it.

  • This makes sense, right?

  • However, we're much more interested

  • in what virtual reality has to offer for lost heritage.

  • Here is an example of one of the tower tombs

  • that was destroyed in Palmyra.

  • Using Sketchfab's online viewer,

  • we can show that we have reconstructed three parts of the exterior of the tomb,

  • but we also have photos of the inside,

  • so we're beginning to create a reconstruction of the wall

  • and the ceiling.

  • Archaeologists worked there for many, many years,

  • so we also have architectural drawing plans of this lost heritage.

  • Unfortunately, we are not only losing cultural heritage to areas of conflict

  • and at war --

  • we're also losing it to natural disasters.

  • This is a 3D model of Durbar Square in Kathmandu,

  • before the earthquake that occurred last April ...

  • and this is after.

  • You may be thinking,

  • you didn't create these 3D models with only tourist photographs,

  • and that's true.

  • But what this represents

  • is the ability for large, public organizations and private industry

  • to come together for initiatives like ours.

  • And so one of the major challenges of our project, really,

  • is to find photographs that were taken before something happens, right?

  • Well, the internet is basically a database with millions of images, right?

  • Exactly.

  • So we have begun to develop a tool

  • that allows us to extract images from websites like Flickr,

  • based on their geotags,

  • to complete reconstructions.

  • Because we're not only losing cultural heritage to natural disasters and in war,

  • but we're also losing it to something else.

  • Any idea, just looking at these two pictures?

  • Maybe it's a little difficult to remember,

  • but only a few weeks ago,

  • this was the example of human destruction by human stupidity.

  • Because a tourist in Lisbon wanted to climb onto this statue

  • and take a selfie with it --

  • (Laughter)

  • and pulled it down with him.

  • So we're already finding photographs

  • to complete a digital reconstruction of this.

  • We need to remember

  • that the destruction of cultural heritage isn't a recent phenomenon.

  • In the 16th century,

  • European priests and explorers burned thousands of Maya books in the Americas,

  • of which we only have a handful left.

  • Fast-forward to 2001,

  • when the Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.

  • You see,

  • cultural heritage is about our shared global history.

  • It helps us connect with our ancestors and their stories,

  • but we're losing pieces of it every day to natural disasters

  • and in areas of conflict.

  • Of course, the loss of human life is the most heartbreaking loss ...

  • but cultural heritage offers us a way to preserve the memory of the people

  • for future generations.

  • We need your help to reclaim the history that is being lost.

  • Will you join us?

  • (Applause)

Translator: Carolina Casado Parras

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【TED】Chance Coughenour: How your pictures can help reclaim lost history (How your pictures can help reclaim lost history | Chance Coughenour)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/09/14
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