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Decadent myths in a digital era, by Dr. Martha Vassiliadi, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece


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It is well known that the Decadent movement in European literature (fin de siècle) depends on the narrative of the antiquity, as it is revealed from the discoveries of archaeology in the second half of the 19th century. Amid the ruins of the past authors, painters and poets reconceptualize time and history through a modernist vision based on a imaginary reconfiguration of the antiquity. In this context, the myth of a city (Pompei) or of a woman (Salomé) offer examples which would illustrate in a great variety the synergy of a multi temporal and multi cultural memory of the myth. We describe a methodology on how mixed reality simulations should capitalize on these literary mythical notions in order to provide an enhanced feeling of presence for the heritage site visitor. These are early results of a researchproject from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki that seeks to study and present to the research community a comparative interpretation of female myths of biblical heroines using modern theoretical readings on gender and retrospectively historical and literary texts combined with mixed reality simulation technologies.

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Decadent myths in a digital era, by Dr. Martha Vassiliadi, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

  1. 1. Definition of myth ! Mircea Eliade : Myths describe breakthroughs of the sacred (or the Supernatural) into the World. They describe a time that is fundamental different from historical time. ! Claude Levi-Strauss: Myth is language, functioning on an especial high level […] ! Roland Barthes : Myth is simply a type of speech demonstrated in our dealings with ordinary things […]
  2. 2. From Pompeii to Judea I. Histories of landscapes ! Pompeii : the paradox of a creative destruction (Bulwer, Gautier, Jenssen) ! B. Virtual reality and romanticism : the literary challenge II. Histories of personae ! Salome : the paradox of (a historical ?) fiction ! The placeless place : from myth to reality (Wilde, Cavafy) !
  3. 3. Histories of landscapes Pompeii : The paradox of a creative destruction Edward Bulwer-Lytton, The Last Days of Pompeii, 1832 ! From the ample materials before me, my endeavor has been to select those which would be most attractive to a modern reader: the customs and superstitions least unfamiliar to him, — the shadows that, when reanimated, would present to him such images as, while they represented the past, might be least uninteresting to the speculations of the present. (1834 edition)
  4. 4. The lion . . . halted abruptly in the arena, raised itself half on end, uttered a baffled howl Half leading, half carrying Ione, Glaucus followed his guide F. C. Yohn, 1926/ scan by George Landow
  5. 5. Pompeii: capital of the digital culture ! pompeii ! Virtual Pompeii (Carnegie Mellon University) (2007) EPOCH EU Project: Virtual Pompeii Crowd simulation LIFEPLUS EU Project: Augmented Reality revival of fauna and flora in ancient Pompeii based on frescoes Pompeii Quadriporticus Project
  6. 6. A day in Pompeii I
  7. 7. A day in Pompeii II
  8. 8. A day in Pompeii III
  9. 9. Chapter IX, The Last Days of Pompeii The despair of the lovers ! Another—and another—and another shower of ashes, far more profuse than before, scattered fresh desolation along the streets. Darkness once more wrapped them as a veil; and Glaucus, his bold heart at last quelled and despairing, sank beneath the cover of an arch, and, clasping Ione to his heart—a bride on that couch of ruin—resigned himself to die.
  10. 10. Pompeii and computer games ! Timescape: Journey to Pompeii (2001) ! Darkest of Days (2009) ! Escape from Pompeii: An Isabel Soto Archaeology Adventure (2011)
  11. 11. ARRIA MARCELLA (1852) ! Indeed nothing dies, but all exists perpetually, that which was once, no power can annihilate. Every act, every word, every shape, every thought which has fallen into the universal ocean of being forms widening circles that go on expanding to the far reaches of eternity…Passionate minds, powerful wills, have succeeded in summoning forth ostensibly vanished centuries and in resurrecting human beings from the dead. ! Théophile Gautier, “Arria Marcella. Souvenir of Pompeii”, 1852
  12. 12. GRADIVA (1905) “The heavens held the doomed city wrapped in a black mantle of smoke only here and there the flaring masses of flame from the crater made distinguishable something steeped in blood red light.[…] As he stood thus at the edge of the Forum near the Jupiter temple, he suddenly saw Gradiva a short distance in front of him. Until then no thought of her presence there had moved him, but now suddenly it seemed natural to him, as she was, of course, a Pompeiian girl, that she was living in her native city and, without his having any suspicion of it, was his contemporary.” Wilhelm Jenssen, Gradiva, 1905
  13. 13. Of other spaces : Utopias and Heterotopias ! Places of this kind are outside of all places even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality. Because these places are absolutely different from all the sites that they reflect and speak about, I shall call them, by way of contrast to utopias, heterotopias. I believe that between utopias and these quite other sites, these heterotopias, there might be a sort for mixed joint experience, which would be the mirror. The mirror is, after all, a utopia, since it is a placeless place. In the mirror, I see myself there where I am not, in an unreal, virtual space that opens up behind own visibility to myself, that enables me to see myself there where I am absent : such is the utopia of the mirror. ! Michel Foucault (1967)
  14. 14. LIFEPLUS: Main focus ! Reenact historical scenes by reviving ancient life depicted in frescos in Augmented Reality AR Foni, A., Papagiannakis, G., and Magnenat-Thalmann, N. 2010. A Taxonomy of Visualization Strategies for Cultural Heritage Applications. ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage 3, 1, 1–21. Magnenat-Thalmann, N. and Papagiannakis, G. 2010. Recreating Daily Life in Pompeii. VAR-Virtual Archaeology Review, ISSN 1989-9947, also presented in Arqueologica 2.0 1, 2, 16–20.
  15. 15. LIFEPLUS AR simulation Papagiannakis, G., Schertenleib, S., O'Kennedy, B., Poizat, M., Magnenat-Thalmann, N., Stoddart, A., Thalmann, D. . 2005. Mixing Virtual and Real scenes in the site of ancient Pompeii. Computer Animation and Virtual Worlds, John Wiley and Sons Ltd 16, 1, 11–24.
  16. 16. Salome ! Mark 6: 16-29: On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask me for anything you want, and I’ll give it to you.” And he promised her with an oath, “Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” “The head of John the Baptist,” she answered. At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter.”
  17. 17. Salome in european literature from 1800 to 1982érature.pdf
  18. 18. Salome:the concept of the image
  19. 19. Oscar Wilde, Salomé, 1896 ! THE VOICE OF SALOMÉ ! Ah! I have kissed thy mouth, Jokanaan, I have kissed thy mouth. There was a bitter taste on thy lips. Was it the taste of blood?... But perchance it is the taste of love.... They say that love hath a bitter taste.... But what of that? what of that? I have kissed thy mouth, Jokanaan. ! [A moonbeam falls on Salomé covering her with light.] ! HEROD ! [Turning round and seeing Salomé.] ! Kill that woman! ! [The soldiers rush forward and crush beneath their shields Salomé, daughter of Herodias, Princess of Judæa.] ! CURTAIN.
  20. 20. C. P. Cavafy “Salome” (1896) ! Upon a golden charger Salome bears the head of John the Baptist to the young Greek sophist who recoils from her love, indifferent. ! The young man quips, “Salome, your own head is what I wanted them to bring me.” This is what he says jokingly. And her slave came running on the morrow holding aloft the head of the Beloved, its tresses blond, upon a golden plate. But all his eagerness of yesterday the Sophist has forgotten as he studied. He sees the dripping blood and is disgusted. He orders this bloody thing to be taken from him, and he continues his reading of the Dialogues of Plato. ! (From an Ancient Nubian Gospel) ! Trad. Daniel Mendelssohn, 2009
  21. 21. Cavafy’s Salome made in Japan
  22. 22. Conclusions & Future Work ! Without the original experience of writing or the authenticity of text, basically without the notion of literature, the dream of hybrid information proves a mire technological achievement, a condensed fantasy of imagination and material reality, which however doesn’t really lead the imaginary into a sharp and clear form. ! Virtual Reality Salome simulation ! Forthcoming book publication: ! “Daugthers of Herodias: Study in the biblical passion crime” ! based on the Aristotle University Research Comittee Project no 90676
  23. 23. Thank you!
  24. 24. Bibliography I ! Robert Ginsberg, The Aesthetics of Ruins, Rodopi B.V. Amsterdam-NY, 2004. ! William St Clair and Annika Bautz, “Imperial Decadence: The making of myths in Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s Last Days in Pompeii”, Victorian Literature and Culture (2012), 40, 359-396. ! Nothing changes under the sun: Authenticity in The Last Days of Pompeii, www. ! Simmons, James C., Bulwer and Vesuvius: The Topicality of The Last Days of Pompeii. Nineteenth- Century Fiction 24.1 (1969): 103-105. ! Victoria C. Gardner Coates, Kenneth Lapatin, Jon L. Seydl, The Last Days of Pompei. Decadence, Apocalypse, Ressurection, J. P. Getty, LA 2012 ! Sasha Colby, "The Literary Archaeologies of Théophile Gautier" , CLCWeb Volume 8 Issue 2 (June 2006) Article 7 ! Annelisa Stephan, “Apocalypse Then : Buwer-Lyttons’s “ The Last Days of Pompeii”, ! A day in Pompeii, Full length animation, zero one,
  25. 25. Bibliography II ! Ian Hodder and Scott Hutson, Reading the Past. Current approaches to Interpretation in Archeology, Cambridge University Press, 2003 ! Joan Kessler, Demons of night. Tales of the fantastic, Madness and the Supernatural, University of Chicago Press, 1995 ! Michel Foucault, “Of other Spaces: Utopias and Heterotopias”, Architecture/ Mouvement/Continuité, October 1984 (“Des espaces autres”, March 1967. Translated from the french by Jay Miskowiec) ! Roland Barthes, "La Gradiva", Fragments d'un discours amoureux [1977], OEuvres complètes (éd. É. Marty), Paris, Le Seuil, t. III, 1995, p. 573-575. ! Stephen Poole, “Timescape : Journey to Pompeii Review”, 1900-2678110/ ! Victoria C. Gardner Coates, “On the cutting Edge. Pompeii and the new technology” Decadence, Apocalypse, Ressurection, J. P. Getty, LA 2012, 44-51. ! Richard Coyne, Technoromanticism. Digital narrative, holism, and the romance of the real
  26. 26. Bibliography III ! P. Milgram, F. Kishino, “A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Displays”, IEICE Trans. Information Systems, vol. E77-D, no. 12, 1994, pp. 1321-1329 ! R. Azuma, Y. Baillot, R. Behringer, S. Feiner, S. Julier, B. MacIntyre, “Recent Advances in Augmented Reality”, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, November/December 2001 ! H. Tamura, H. Yamamoto, A. Katayama, “Mixed reality: Future dreams seen at the border between real and virtual worlds”, Computer Graphics and Applications, vol.21, no.6, pp. 64-70. 2001 ! Nandi A., Marichal X., Transfiction, proceedings of Virtual Reality International Conference, Laval May 2000. ! G. Papagiannakis, S. Schertenleib, B. O’Kennedy , M. Poizat, N.Magnenat-Thalmann, A. Stoddart, D.Thalmann, "Mixing Virtual and Real scenes in the site of ancient Pompeii", Journal of CAVW, pp. 11-24, Volume 16, Issue 1, John Wiley and Sons Ltd, February 2005 ! G. Papagiannakis and N. Magnenat-Thalmann, “Mobile Augmented Heritage: Enabling Human Life in ancient Pompeii,” The International Journal of Architectural Computing, Multi-Science Publishing, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 395–415, 2007. ! Mónica Ann Walker Vadillo, Salome, ! C. P. Cavafy in Tokyo,