Remediation of Historical Photographs in Mobile Augmented Reality


  • Espen Johnsen Bøe



Being present at a location of historical significance, often demands imagination to understand the full scope of the area. An approach to spark one’s imagination is to present a mediated simulation of a historic location in situ. As an application example, we used the sitsim AR platform to develop a simulation that conveys the history of fishermen in the historic fishing village of Storvågan in Lofoten, Norway. The study presents a rendition of the sitsim AR platform’s functionality for engaging presentations of historical photographs. This functionality is enhanced from solely representing buildings in a historical photograph into also representing animated human characters. In Storvågan, a museum (Lofotmuseet) occupies historically significant buildings amid the historic surroundings. This museum exhibits a historical photograph of fishermen that also shows how the area once looked. This photograph is remediated into a 3D animation, presented as a real-time generated simulation, at the location where the photograph was originally photographed. The study documents a design experiment including the modelling and animation of a 3D representation depicting the photograph. The functionality is evaluated based on user feedback from a case study of a beta version on location in Lofoten. Users reported that the animated fishermen contribute to an engaging experience and a feeling of being “part of the history.” The majority of users perceived the 3D representation as credible. An analysis of the modelled characters concludes that the 3D-models lack perceptual validity; hence, the case study’s positive results were somewhat unexpected. Three theories are presented as conceivable explanations for the unexpected result. Ultimately, the study provides a method for modelling and animation of people from a historical photograph, and showcases how the animation of human characters in a sitsim may be applied to convey cultural heritage in an engaging way.