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The Virtual Garden: Didactic Reconstruction and Extended Experientiality in the Villa of Livia Frescoes

David Massey, Matthew Brennan, and Nicholas Plank

Indiana University

Despite the increasing implementation of virtual reality (VR) in the field of archaeology, there is a continued focus on preservation and 3D reconstruction rather than more in-depth applications afforded by VR. We propose an extended methodology for presenting archaeological, art historical, and didactic information in VR—focusing on experientiality and presence for use in access, research, education, and outreach. First, we present a simple 3D scene containing a state model of the so-called Garden Room from the Villa of Livia. In this virtual environment, we apply a framework that allows disparate primary and secondary written, visual, and audio sources to be referenced while a user is immersed in the scene. Second, we utilize the unique power of real-time visualization engines and vegetation modeling software to construct a 3D version of the 2D parietal garden. This approach represents a departure from traditional reconstruction in that it is the creation of an entirely fictional space derived from Roman iconographic tradition—one which could never exist in the real world. We argue that the ability to move between these two scenes (augmented reconstruction and iconographic creation) presents a marked improvement on traditional methods of viewing this architectural space.

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