In 2011, it was SPECS‘ director and ICREA Prof. Paul Verschure who initiated the virtual reconstruction of Bergen Belsen when he found out that the former camp is now a natural park with very little physical remains to help relate to its tragic history. Together with then director of the Belsen memorial prof. Habbo Knoch they set about to develop on-site applications to convey the camp’s history as bound to both real and virtual environment.
In the years following, a variety of interactive applications were conceptualised, including a framework that in principle generalises to any historical site. In their projects, Universitat Pompeu Fabra’s SPECS group studies mind, brain and behavior via technology. Besides an extension into the field of Digital Heritage, this project also offers the group a platform to research and explore new approaches to learning through action and spatial navigation. Active exploration and movement in an environment have been shown to affect memory in characteristically different ways, it is such effects that we want to explore and harness in novel applications for heritage exchange and experience. In this context, SPECS’s objective is to find interactive narrative structures that allow users to understand the importance of historical events, to identify with past cultures and to assign meaning with respect to their own existence.
The timeline below highlights key events, and offers an alternative entrance to the different applications of this project.
(Timeline made with the cool tools of Knightlab.com)