Processual Scholia. The Importance of Paradata in Heritage Visualization
by Anna Bentkowska-Kafel
Our book emphasises the importance of making the process of digital visualization of cultural heritage visible and transparent. The record of this process, or paradata, should be made an integral part of visualization. It is only then, we argue, that computer-based visualization of heritage can be recognised as a valid scholarly method for studying and presenting cultures of the past. Papers included in this volume offer an insight into research in this area conducted internationally in recent years. The contributors show how their approach – of ensuring conceptual transparency of the process through which visualization is conceived and created – has evolved from initial theoretical and practical propositions to methodological solutions and scholarly practice guided by the London Charter for the Computer-based Visualisation and Communication of Heritage. The emphasis here is on visualization of material culture exemplified by archaeological sites and architecture, movable artefacts and palaeontological heritage. The same care for safeguarding intellectual transparency is being advocated for visualization applied to the study and preservation of intangible or living heritage, and abstract cognitive processes. Each of these fields carries the inheritance of discrete research philosophies and practices. Benefiting from the interaction between established conventions and the ever more sophisticated digital techniques, visualization of cultural objects, theories and phenomena emerges as a pursuit of an unprecedented capacity for interdisciplinary enquiry. What this new interdisciplinary research entails in the arts and humanities computing is an interesting question in its own right. In this conclusion I draw on some pertinent points raised by the contributing authors, trying to demonstrate that if conducted with a scholarly rigour and according to restoration ethics, computer-based visualization may serve as an important investigative tool that enhances our knowledge of cultural heritage and its significance. Stable preservation and effective communication are necessary conditions for successful dissemination of visualization-based research.