Rediscovering our Art Culture and Heritage in a Digital Era

Social Transformations in a Digital World

Moderator: Johnny Lugo Vega, PhD (PR), Shirley McPhaul MA, PRSTRT-CHIP (PR)

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Digitalization, Videogames and NFTs

This webinar series explores how technology access has a concrete (and potential) social transformative effect when applied to cultural heritage conservation and cultural production.

When it comes to cultural heritage conservation, the decaying infrastructure of historic buildings is a real problem, even more so in rural areas. For his webinar, Dr. Johnny Lugo Vega explores a 19th-century coffee and sugar rural system in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico. This heritage site has a fragile infrastructure due to the 2017 hurricanes, and a series of earthquakes that began in early 2020. Dr Lugo’s project proposes a high-tech process to stabilize and restore this property.

It is clear that digital tools facilitate cultural heritage preservation for future generations. But once everything has been digitalized, what is next? Shirley McPhaul proposes we use it to create virtual worlds for videogames and interactive experiences. In her webinar, McPhaul explores games as an underrated medium with great potential as a tool for conservation and preservation.

Finally, also by Ms. McPhaul, the last seminar explores NFT crypto-assets and their potential place within our future digital lives and the so-called “metaverse.” Videogames were just the first step into social virtual spaces, and McPhaul argues that NFTs are the next piece required to build a truly digital life.

Johnny Lugo Vega, PhD (PR): Mr. Lugo has a BS in Chemistry (1992); a M.S. in Environmental Health (2005) and a Ph.D. in the History of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean (2017) from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR). He got a diploma in Painting Restoration from the Istituto Per L’Arte e il Restauro in Florence, Italy (1994-1997). He is a Fellow -NSF- IGERT in Environmental Sciences (2012) and a Fellow -Prince Claus Funds-Smithsonian (2019). He is the director of the Cultural Heritage Innovation Program at the PRSTRT (2018-to date).

Shirley McPhaul (PR): Passionate about people and technology, McPhaul believes that the future of humankind is in digital realms and virtual worlds. She holds MAs in the Humanities from the University of Puerto Rico and the University of Iceland, with an emphasis in narrative, game design, gender studies, myth and legend, narrative and interactive design. She currently works as a Cultural Heritage Technology Specialist at the Cultural Heritage Innovation Program.


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