(Linz, 23.11.2020) As one of the largest nativity scenes in the world, the Christmas ensemble by the Munich sculptor Sebastian Osterrieder in the Mariendom in Linz is normally an absolute crowd-puller during the Advent season. More than a hundred years after their first exhibition, the nativity scene figures were carefully restored and then scanned by the Ars Electronica Futurelab using photogrammetry. Now they’ve been restaged as an interactive and audiovisual experience for the Mariendom and the Ars Electronica Center’s Deep Space 8K. Due to COVID-19 regulations, it’s currently still uncertain when the results will be accessible to visitors. Nevertheless, this year the digitalized version of the crib can also be experienced online and from a safe distance as part of Ars Electronica Home Delivery during Deep Space LIVE on December 3, 2020, 5:00 p.m. With Ing. Petra Weiss (Federal Monuments Authority/Department for Upper Austria), Dr. Maximilian Strasser (Cathedral Pastor) and Stefan Mittlböck (Ars Electronica Futurelab).
Ars Electronica Home Delivery: Deep Space LIVE – Virtual Crib of the Mariendom Linz
On Thursday, December 3, 2020, Ars Electronica Home Delivery will be featuring a Deep Space LIVE, showing a virtual nativity scene from Linz’s Mariendom. Starting at 5:00 p.m., viewers will not only have the opportunity to examine the digitized nativity scene figures in detail, but also to learn interesting facts about various theological and art-historical aspects of the nativity scene from Ing. Mag. Petra Weiss (Federal Monuments Authority/Department for Upper Austria) and Dr. Maximilian Strasser (Cathedral Pastor). In addition, Stefan Mittlböck-Jungwirth (Ars Electronica Futurelab) will provide insights into the process of digitizing the figures.
Extensive restoration of the nativity scene
An extensive assessment in spring 2020 has highlighted the urgent need for restoration of the crib of the Mariendom in Linz. Since then, the up to one meter tall figures, the crib landscape and paintings have been carefully cleaned, restored, supplemented and conserved. By Christmas 2020 many of the figures will already be shining in new splendor. In the future, the nativity scene will be available for virtual experience not only in the crypt of Linz’s Mariendom but also in Deep Space 8K at the Ars Electronica Center.
Digitization as a Promising Method of Conservation
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 special cameras are finally transferred into a 3D model and can be projected stereoscopically.
The digitization process of the cathedral nativity scene is carried out in two steps: While the first digitization phase has already been able to capture the most important elements, a virtual image of the nativity scene architecture is to be created in 2021 in addition to the remaining figures and objects, and will be presented next year.
About the Ars Electronica Futurelab
The Ars Electronica Futurelab develops concepts for a society of the future and innovations that will help shape our world today and tomorrow. It looks back on many years of experience with research and development projects and interactive installations at the intersection of art, technology and society. The current project of the Ars Electronica Futurelab in cooperation with the Diocese of Linz is part of a series of digitization projects in connection with the preservation of cultural heritage.