Considering Digital Embodiment

Endeavoring to digitally recreate someone definitely has its challenges, which I had a very brief experience with. Very quickly I became conscious of what information I was drawing from, like the life experience of my pauper and the assumptions I would make about how they would affect my body. For example, how to you reflect the amount of physical work someone did while at the same time emphasizing the lack of nutrition?

While I found the experience of trying to make those decisions daunting and very weird, I do understand the importance of such representation. When exploring different models in class, playing the in the same environment with different avatars, I immediately noticed that I moved around the space differently. Now, this wore off pretty quickly when I noticed there was little procedural difference in that particular model, but future work could easily engage that same idea again.

A Critique of “Digital Pompeii”

I explored the University of Arkansas’ digital recreation of the House of Prince of Naples, one of the houses in Pompeii. This particular model is focused on the murals on the walls, and two versions (one during the day, and the other at night) illustrates the placement, location, etc of the murals in a way that a picture or other 2D reconstruction would struggle with. Their goal seems to be more academic, with this model being part of a larger effort to build a database of visual art references. With that intention, this model serves that purpose.

Given the more academic context in which this is presented, it seems unfair to judge it for it’s accessibility towards a more general audience. However, it still is engaging. I absolutely geeked out over this experience, having learned a bit about these murals and the styles in a Roman archaeology and art class I took last year. This would have been a handy tool for my professor to use when teaching. Furthermore, if desired, it could be remodeled to fit a general public audience. A choice to further explore the styles and subjects of the murals by a pop up or other mechanic, would inform the audience as to what they are walking through while still being able to explore the space.

A Colored Apron

I chose to focus on a colored apron, which was found both in the Staplehurst workhouse inventories and the St. Andrew Undershaft records which we used for our pauper biographies.

In terms of it being presented in both physical and digital forms, a dual approach would be particularly interesting. This could be an object that would be purely on display, but it could also be integrated in an exhibit where visitors could try on and experience the clothes firsthand with replicas. This would be much more of an experience, though difficulties might arise in the making of the exhibit.

As for the digital side, that too has a great deal of potential. An image or even a 3D model of a person wearing everyday wear, including the apron, would aid in understanding the period visually. Furthermore, digitally it becomes significantly easier to illustrate how a colored apron would be special. Having multiple people in plain aprons with one person in a colored apron in an image, etc. gives the visitor a better context and understanding of the significance that the apron is colored, as opposed to a single item on display.

Jonas Hanway

Jonas Hanway (1712 – 1786) was a merchant and philanthropist. Making his wealth working with the Russia Company, his work as a philantropist made him a central figure regarding public policy on the poor.

Hanway was particularly concerned with expanding the population of Britain. He was elected governor of the Foundling Hospital in 1756 after his £50 donation, which amounts to about £10,000 today. Thanks to the House of Commons’ decision to subsidize the Foundling Hospital, Hanway oversaw the general admission period (1756-1760), when any child who was dropped off was admitted. While this attempt proved too costly to continue for long, Hanway was fully invested in the process, involving himself in a variety of concerns ranging from smallpox vaccines to the weight of coal buckets.

Hanway also heavily advocated for policy change. His advocacy in particular led to the passage of two Acts, both of which would become known as Hanway’s Act. The first one, passed in 1762, which required parishes to keep records regarding the children in their care, formed the foundation for later reform work. The second one, passed in 1767, stemmed from Hanway’s belief that London was deadly to children who lived in the workhouses. The new policy mandated by the Act relocated infants born in London workhouses to rural environments. While the system was later plagued by abuse, the act likely saved thousand of lives.

 

Sources:

“Inflation.” Bankofengland.co.uk, last modified January 8, 2018. https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/monetary-policy/inflation.

Taylor, James Stephen. “Hanway, Jonas (bap. 1712, d. 1786), merchant and philanthropist.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, last accessed January 21, 2018.  http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/10.1093/ref:odnb//odnb-9780198614128-e-12230.

Response to “Discussion: Historical Accuracy and Historical Video Games?”

In my classes so far, I’ve had many discussions over the “historical accuracy” of a variety of mediums, spanning from the musical Hamilton in a history class, to the movie Gladiator and other movies and TV shows based on the Romans in a classics course. There’s a reason my professors created space in their very limited time frame  to touch on modern depictions of the past. While a “fun” assignment, it also lead to engaging discussions on modern portrayals of historical events, the historical narrative it follows and/or undermines, and benefits and drawbacks of having something not entirely historically accurate consumed by a wider audience who is not necessarily aware of how accurate it is or isn’t.

One of the takeaway from these discussions tends to be that regardless of historical accuracy, the story is still valuable to the public because it engages people, leaving those who want to learn more a reference point to see what things are historically plausible and what was artistic liberty etc. It’s foolish and a bit patronizing to assume that the audience to these stories aren’t aware that liberties were very likely taken. It’s historical fiction, as you say, and games and/or narratives that approach their historical setting should be regarded as such.