Re-building a ruin
Re-building a ruin: Greyfriars, the ghost in the machine
According to Derrida to haunt does not mean to be present. Applying a critical framework of hauntology to virtual heritage this research enables ideas around hauntology to be explored in both a physical and virtual geography of absence. Greyfriars is a medieval friary and what remains today are ruins haunting what is left of Dunwich now known as the Lost City.
Numerous ghost sightings have been noted at the site of Greyfriars, including choral voices, floating lanterns etc., however it’s not just ghosts haunting Greyfriars. Kalay and Marx (2006) argue the presence of others in avatar form can give meaning to our actions and behaviours and through association. This research explores if this meaningfulness can be potentially extended to the virtual heritage environment of the site of Greyfriars before it falls into the sea to re-join the rest of the Lost City via the creation of a WebXR space for Greyfriars to haunt and be haunted. Working with a methodology grounded in media archaeology WebXR is chosen to ensure the environment is accessible across different hardware, including hardware that becomes quickly redundant in the immersive space.
By moving beyond mere reconstruction of a place to develop a virtual space to be inhabited remotely by the player as an avatar moves beyond the representational function of virtual heritage. This research explores how the presence of others in avatar form can change the virtual heritage experience in the metaverse to open up Greyfriars to new audiences without creating the need for the latest and greatest in new technology and rely on what you likely already have in your pocket, your smartphone.
Anglia Ruskin University
Emily is a PhD student with the StoryLab research institute and a BA (Hons) Digital Media Production Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin university in Cambridge. She has an MA in Printmaking and current PhD study is Specters and Sebald: A practice-led investigation into interactive storytelling and environmental heritage to re-build The Lost City of Dunwich. Outside of Academia Emily runs a social enterprise Virtually There Studio CIC to support humans in East Anglia with digital literacy and creative skills to aid wellbeing.