Restrictions in travel and movement across spaces during the COVID pandemic presented the project with a unique challenge – – how could we understand a place from a distance? How could we experience a site whilst being geographically distant? How can we share that experience with peers in different locations? Was it possible to use available digital technologies to facilitate telepresence – ie. the feeling of being there?
In each country, the team of academics and students selected local sites of significance to visit; the Hertica House and Dodona Theatre in Kosovo, The Gisimba Memorial Centre, and the Colombiere School in the wetlands in Kigali, Rwanda. They would each visit their local sites and run a series of site surveys using methods from across disciplines – artistic, architectural and anthropological. In Rwanda these would take place as a series of walks between the different sites, connected by the fact that they lie in the wetlands. What became apparent as each of the teams explored these places was that communicating the experience of space with others needed to move beyond descriptive accounts, testimonials or scattered photographic imagery. The remediation of place through a screen required complex constellations of information to be represented: maps, photo documentation, panoramics, video-walkthroughs, 360 videos and 3D CGI reconstructions were some of the visual aids used to make the ‘strange familiar’.