More than a hundred years after their first exhibition, the nativity scene of the Mariendom was carefully restored and then scanned by the Ars Electronica Futurelab using photogrammetry. It has been restaged as an interactive and audiovisual experience for the Mariendom and the Ars Electronica Center’s Deep Space 8K. In Deep Space 8K, the virtual nativity scene has been accessible to the public as an Advent program since 2021: an audiovisual, interactive VR experience in stereoscopic 3D with a 360-degree perspective.
An extensive assessment in spring 2020 has highlighted the urgent need for restoration of the crib of the Mariendom in Linz. The Christmas ensemble by the Munich sculptor Sebastian Osterrieder is one of the largest nativity scenes in the world. The up to one meter tall figures, the crib landscape and paintings have been carefully cleaned, restored, supplemented and conserved.
By means of an innovative, non-contact mapping and conservation method, the nativity scene figures were scanned and visualized in the course of a digitization process. The photogrammetric procedure, which can indirectly determine the position and form of the objects on the basis of countless photographs from 360 different perspectives, makes it possible to carefully digitize cultural heritage such as the Osterrieder crib and to transform it into a virtual reality, thus preserving it for the future generations. The images recorded with digital SLR cameras are finally transferred into a 3D model and can be projected stereoscopically.
The digitization process of the cathedral nativity scene was carried out in two steps: The first digitization phase in 2020 has been able to capture the most important elements, in total 33 figures and objects. In a second digitization phase in 2021 a virtual image of the nativity scene architecture and landscape has been created in addition to the remaining figures and objects. Now the nativity scene is presented in full splendour. It is available for virtual experience not only in the crypt of Linz’s Mariendom but also in Deep Space 8K at the Ars Electronica Center, giving viewers the opportunity to examine the digitized nativity scene figures in detail.
Read more on the Virtual Crib (first phase in 2020) on the Ars Electronica Blog:
Take a look at some of our other projects
From our never-ending list of ideas and concepts we have compiled a selection of works related to the topics addressed in this project. An overview of all our productions, cooperations and projects can be found in our continuously growing project archive.