Science and Technology for Art (START) 2012,
Event 2: Educational Program Training Course
on Scientific Recording and Preservation of
National and International Cultural Heritage Assets
Last September 4-7 2012, an effective educational program and training course on Scientific Recording and Preservation of National and International Cultural Heritage Assets was held in the University of Santo Tomas. The conference was hosted by the said university and organized by other concerned institutions in the field such as National Museum of the Philippines, University of the Philippines Diliman, Kyoto University, National Historical Commission, and UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines. It was generously sponsored by Kyoto University and by MEXT Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan. The plenary talks were all free-of-charge and thus were opened to the general public especially to the researchers, collectors, artists, students, custodians of heritage, media and the like. The event was supposedly limited to 40 participants. In the end there were a total of 56 slots opened to those who registered the earliest and the most interested.
There were a total of 10 experts and professionals from local and abroad who partook as speakers on the event. These were Professor Ari Ide-Ektessabi, Dr. Jay Arre Oliveros Toque and Ms. Chizu Hoshiai from Kyoto University; Sarah Kenderdine from City University of Hong Kong; Ms. Chiyoko Sato from Kyosei International Patent Office; Professor Maricor Soriano from the University of the Philippines Diliman; Architecture Wilkie Delumen and Architecture Luisa Valerio from National Historic Commission of the Philippines; and Mr. Mike Bahrami and Professor Maita Reyes from the University of Santo Tomas.
Professor Kenderdine who had her lecture on the first day of training, introduced their Immersive Museum project which started in 2008, all exhibited in the Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre installed in the Hongkong Convention and Exhibition Centre. This aims to intensely enhance the presentational flexibility of museum information delivery through the use of a more engaging and more interactive exhibits which incorporate the principles of advanced technology. She said that this new idea of showcasing the art excites the public curiosity thus, creates interest for the audience. She mentioned that this innovation was also inspired by Automaton Theatre which became prevalent during Hellenistic times. Some of the featured exhibits depict Phantasmagoria – an art which displays ghostery and aberrations and Anamorphosis – art which pictures out illusion and distortion. Included also in the exhibition are perfect representations of Baroque architecture and painting through panoramic and panoptic projections. Panoramic Immersion, Augmented Immersion and other new techniques were significantly applied and were evident in their ‘Pure Land’, ‘The Lost Ones’ and other exhibitions. At the end of her lecture, she asked each participant to introduce themselves and share on what things they are interested the most. It turned out that the audience was comprised of a very diverse group of people who deal on different fields. Nonetheless, it seems that what brought them together were the concern for taking care of our cultural heritage and the appreciation for art.
Another expert, Doctor Jay Arre Oliveros Toque discussed on Basic and Advanced Analytical Imaging, Multispectral, Hyperspectral and Polarized Imaging for Cultural Heritage: Theories and Practical Demonstration, and Demonstration of Ultra High Resolution Digitization of Important National Heritage of the Philippines. Analytical Imaging for one is utilized and beneficial not just in museum endeavors but also in forensic. They have developed this movable device which is able to scan any matter at even microscopic level with an ultra high resolution capability – making it easier to analyze any object. It is an in-depth data gathering tool which transforms qualitative data to quantitative data and is very effective in such a way that it is non invasive and non destructive. He said the adeptness of this tool is so extensive that just by an image of the shape of a smoke released from an eruption; it is able to trace the cause and pattern of the explosion. It can also be converted to a spectrometer. On the first and third day of the training, everyone was given the chance to witness how the scanner works right before their very eyes. Doctor Toque mentioned that the tool is not yet patented and that they would happily lend or would even provide one for free for institutions which are in great need of the device, to be used only in nothing but sensible efforts.
On the second day, Mr. Mike Bahrami and Professor Maita Reyes spoke about conservation of art objects. Mr. Bahrami, a microbiologist, discussed some of the basic principles in conservation of artifacts through understanding how microorganisms behave, deteriorate and affect organic and inorganic matter. At the onset of his talk, he gave the Lascaux cave exhibition crisis as an example of a tragic incident in terms of conservation of art. Since it was opened to the public in 1948, paintings were gradually damaged caused by the excessive release of carbon dioxide of visitors. It was closed and restored in 1963 until its resumption in 1983. He stated that there are four types of microorganisms which deteriorate matter. The bacteria and molds (fungi) are responsible for damaging organic matter such as paintings and wooden frames. Bacteria have endospores which are very resilient and resistant that it can live thousands of years; although creation of biofilms helps prevent bacterial infection. Fungi on the other hand are cottony like microorganisms which cause discoloration of artifacts. Inorganic matters are affected by algae and lichens. Algae are photosynthetic and feed on floodlight and carbon dioxide. Lichens are algae inside fungi and produce strong organic acid. On a contrary, lichens are indication of good air quality. Lichonometry is also used to date rocks. To diagnose biodeterioration, microscopy, imaging, Biochemical characterization and culturation, and DNA extraction are used or performed. He also suggested ways to prevent biodeterioration such as mechanical removal of microorganisms proceeded by treatment, physical control as in setting of appropriate humidity, temperature and gamma radiation of the location of specimens, and chemical control such as fumigation. He emphasized that the last technique is not absolutely harmful especially to the health of conservators; however, they may choose the least detrimental but most effective fumigant suitable for particular artifacts. On the latter part of the day Professor Reyes shared that the three main principles of conservation are minimalism – the simpler the restoration technique, the better; reversibility – whatever change is done and applied should be revocable and; compatible stability – only the most apt conservation techniques to a particular object should be performed.
For the final presentation of the day, Ms. Chiyoko Sato talked over rights management concerning digital images of cultural heritage items. She made a distinction among rights management for design patent, trademark and copyright. It really is a serious and crucial issue, but most likely it is the one who produced the item who is initially and officially the owner unless legal transactions are made for transfer of rights and authority.
Third day was held in the National Historic Commission of the Philippines wherein architects Mr. Wilkie Delumen and Luisa Valerio conversed about principles and values in conservation of built heritage in the Philippines and historic preservation of tangible heritage respectively. Architect Delumen emphasized the importance of historic preservation that it is a means of connecting to the past thus, of retention of national identity. He made a few notes such as that reconstruction of items can be no more than a copy; that conservation measures must begin in good time and in good conditions such that the building that is to restored is at least 50 years old and is still 70% intact and authentic. He proceeded by enumerating the factors in historic preservation which include politico-legal, socio-cultural, economic, technological and ecological concerns. He said that the common denominator to manage these factors is sincere and voluntarily participation of family units, and consequently of people of the community. He mentioned though that conflicts arise between the ‘purists’ and the ‘progressives’ wherein the former favors originality while the latter advocates development.
Architect Valerio then continued the discussion by introducing the process of conservation and implementation plan: site inspection, documentation with measured drawings and assessment of condition, graphical recording, mapping of geomorphology and material characterization. She mentioned the three important things to consider in preparation of conservation plans: budget, which is at times locally funded, granted by NCCA or initiated by the congress; availability of material, wherein resourcefulness is a must; and the presentation of structure. Lastly, preparation of project documents includes scope of work, methodology of conservation and estimate of work.
Last day of training was a very engaging and interesting day for participants. Professor Marico Soriano lectured on image processing basics. She requested the attendees a day before her talk to download free image processing applications on the internet such as Autostitch, Microsoft ICE and ImageJ. Before trying out these programs and conducting a hands on session, she talked about digital cleaning – a non invasive technique which produces digitally-restored image of artifacts, especially paintings. She also presented the 3D imaging technology which uses structured light elimination to produce a 3D image of objects. With proper calibration, it can determine the depth of an artifact through image and it can also distinguish old and recent marks made on an object. Lastly, she proudly showed a rapid reef mosaicing tool for coastal areas called ‘teardrop’. It is a device which is dropped underwater to capture images without requiring a person to dive into the water, just like the conventional and painstaking way. They will then use an image processing tool to stitch the images. These images are now uploaded in Google Earth wherein coral reef mosaics are embedded throughout the locations visited. After the discussion, participants all went out to take pictures of their interest and then were given the opportunity to use the image processing tools to stitch the images. Professor Soriano happily projected the output works of the class afterwards. To complete the lectures, the beautiful and charming Ms. Chizu Hoshiai indulged the audience to again witness a demo using their most advanced high resolution digital image analyzing tool. Not every computer program has the capability to open a 30 gigabyte or more picture file; but this tool, along with the high tech scanner, could show even the minutest detail of an image. Everyone was in awe every time Ms. Hoshiai flashes an image.
Before calling it a day, the anticipated culminating program and graduation of attendees were held at the most exquisite building in the university – its museum. Those first timers to come to the place could not help but to explore the spectacles of the museum. After a few minutes, everyone gathered and the program started with short speeches from the organizers of the event. The program was culminated by bestowing of certificates and ultimately by exchange of expression of gratitude to one another. Dinner was served at the lobby of the building which served as a venue for everyone to cherish and appreciate the now-have-passed days of fun and learning. Indeed the event was very successful that the organizers have already planned an upcoming seminar to be held in around February of next year.