Funding scheme: Indo-Swiss Joint Research Programme: Heritage and Cultural Exchange in Global Age, Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
This project unites humanities, digital heritage and social science experts at EPFL, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Jodhpur, IIT Indore, Flame University and Université de Genève.
Digital Twins: negotiating identity and translocated heritage in the global age addresses the urgent transnational challenges of heritage exchange in the digital era. The project unites humanities, digital heritage, and social science experts to grapple with the compound predicaments facing museums and curators worldwide to distribute their collections ethically, democratically, and equitably to diverse, internationally located audiences. In an era of rapidly changing values associated with decolonization and repatriation as well as increased risk caused by warfare and climate change, the project addresses: (i) the circulation of digital art treasures and heritage, a translocated phenomenon with psycho-social ramifications for local and transnational identities; (ii) the creation and exhibition of high-fidelity 3D digital twins as a means to transform engagement with heritage objects and; (iii) the potential for digital twins in combination with blockchain technologies to enable more equitable, trustworthy, and ethical distribution of heritage. The project studies seminal Gupta period sculptures originating in Sarnath, Methura and Nalanda, India. At the core of pilgrimage, trade, and cultural exchange for thousands of years, Buddhist collections exemplify migratory, moveable heritage now found in collections worldwide. The project will thus expand curatorial practices to encompass digital twins in gallery settings, focusing on the public reception of these objects through exploring heritage ownership, identity, narrative, and transnational meaning. Using blockchain technologies and smart contracts, the project proposes new models to help resolve issues of copyright, data security, data sovereignty and privacy, and contested provenance.