The Ara Pacis com'era: archeology meets augmented reality

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Ara pacis, archeologia e realtà aumentata


Who knows Rome and lives favoring the pulse of its urban heart, He knows that the metro line A is the main artery, that each day carry people and nourishment in the city: especially the stretch that connects the stations of Terms, Republic, Barberini (right next to’Al Manthia Hotel) Spain and Flaminio. A few kilometers of underground line giving access to a cultural and artistic heritage among the richest and most varied in the world. Five subway stops that contain more history than entire countries, in the world, can boast or show. A web of roads, streets and squares, armored cobblestones and bricks, embellished with monuments, churches and fountains.

but yet, in this ancient flower bouquet, there is a place where past and present meet and marry organically; where archeology, design and digital world interact effectively: the dell'Ara Pacis museum. The altar dedicated by Augustus to the prosperity of Rome in 9 a.C., survived through the centuries has been coated, 2000 years later, the museum complex designed by architect Richard Meier. The modern dress of this structure, however, offers, for some years, a futuristic glimpse its visitors. Since October 2016 the original appearance of this monument, symbol of dominance and the Pax Romana in the ancient world, He was returned due to modern technologies of virtual and augmented reality. On the banks of the Tiber it is again possible to admire, now and the 25/10/2019, The now com'era.

A virtual flight of Campo Marzio

Without the ticket, which can be subject to different forms of reduction, visitors are given a pair of headphones and a Samsung AR viewer, specific device for the experiences in virtual and augmented reality. The responsible leaders of the museum brief description of the operation of the equipment and the organization of the tour, which is divided into 9 interactive stations, for a total duration expected to be approximately 45 minutes. It starts with an impressive intro movie: an actor who impersonates Emperor Augustus appears in front of the altar and invites the viewer to venture into Rome 2000 Years ago.

This was followed by scenes of ritual sacrifices, ceremonies and a bird's eye views of Campo Marzio. The virtual set completely envelops the visitor: after a few minutes, You need to become familiar with the medium, it is easy to let go and there is a time in any direction to appreciate the reconstruction from every angle, and can also grasp the details away from the main scene. A new documentary dimension and intriguing but perhaps does not fully exploit its potential: the movie would have benefited from a longer life and some context information more. Probably the synthesis is a choice targeted to widen as much as possible the target user (a short film can be palatable, for example, even for an audience of children or pupils); but at the end of the first 15 Introductory minutes you can not help but think: "Already finished? Sin, it was so interesting. ".

Augmented reality

The second part of the itinerary requires that we move around the monument, framing the marble panels with viewer dell'Ara, They are activated a series of reconstructive processes in augmented reality. For those not familiar with this expression, a concrete example will be more effective than any definition. Observing the slabs of the monument through the viewer, color and missing details appear in the frame, integrating visually reality, reviving the figures and regenerating the chipped marble bas-reliefs. A voice accompanies the visit, describing the sculptural details on the panels, explaining historical references and metaphors, while the forms of the original colors back to life by the white stone. Music and sound effects emerge from time to time to highlight some narrative elements, further enriching the dive suggestions.

A successful experiment

The experience is undoubtedly interesting and is one of the first applications, accessible to mass, a technology that still misses its development potential. The initiative is part of a series of interventions on Rome that combine archeology and technology, such as 3D reconstructions of the Baths of Caracalla and the Domus Aurea. A positive step towards a new way to discover the history and, certainly, a cutting-edge company in the European cultural and museum scene. The opening also (Friday and Saturday from 19.30 all 23.00) It invites you to take advantage of the tour to enjoy a walk along the Tiber, perhaps accompanied by a tasty appetizer.