The Digital Studio comes to life for Melbourne Knowledge Week

From 1-7 May, Melbourne Knowledge Week (MKW) activated the city in a celebration of innovation and creativity.

The unique annual festival melds art, technology, business and science to explore and co-create our future city. The University was the official festival partners of MKW and hosted a series of events across its campuses.

On Tuesday 2 May in Arts West, the new hub for the Bachelor of Arts at the Parkville campus, the event Digital Visions: Showcasing the Future of Cultural Research showcased the facilities of the Digital Studio with interactive presentations and cultural collections from within the University and beyond.

The Digital Studio is a hub for teaching and researching the digital humanities, arts and social sciences. Set across two levels, the innovative space features state-of-the-art technologies including 2 immersive rooms with 180 degree screens and facilitates active and enquiring digital scholarship across a number of disciplines.

The eTeaching and eLearning team from the Faculty of Arts presented two exhibits on their integration of technology in the classroom, including virtual reality and panoramic screenings. In one of the immersive room, visitors could watch a range of films, from recreations of Shakespeare’s plays Hamlet and Macbeth involving students, to ‘A Thousand Plateaus’, a discussion about key philosophical concepts over coffee and cigarettes, shot in the style of film noir. Upstairs, two alternative versions of a key scene from the Taming of the Shrew could be experienced in 360 VR via Oculus Rift.

Lithodomos VR presented a series of interactive exhibits of archaeologically correct virtual reality that bring the ancient world to life. Their work is integral to the future of tourism, history, education and exhibitions, with recreations of ancient sites such as the Roman Forum, the Athenian Acropolis and Ancient Jerusalem. Lithodomos VR work with researchers at the University to create innovative content for classroom use. Their work is accessible via an app compatible with Oculus Rift or other VR headsets.

The eScholarships Research Centre, based in the University Library, was present to exhibit several digital research projects involving the organization and presentation of important public records. Their work involves finding and digitizing important archival materials and making them available to key audiences. The Encyclopedia of Australian Science, the Australian Women’s Register and Find and Connect are all examples of major databases administered by the Centre, sharing public knowledge resources with new audiences online.

Travis Cox, Digital Studio Project Officer, said ‘The exhibitors were all in deep conversation with various visitors each time I checked in on them all as well as visiting with each other over the three hours. It was a good opportunity to showcase research from within the Faculty … as well as engage with industry partners including through the ACMI X co-working space. It was also great to have Lithodomos, founded by Arts Faculty Alumni Simon Young, as part of the event. They’re doing extremely well in the VR scene.’

Other exhibitors on the day included the Research Unit for Indigenous Languages, the Social and Cultural Informatics Platform, Microsoft SocialNUI, Digital Heritage Australia, ACMI X , Deeper Richer and Cultural Infusion.

See a full list of exhibitors.