A 4D peek into history

German conservator Werner Schmid restoring the 14th-century church mural “The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste”. Credit: Michael Walsh.

Once used by the crusader kings of Jerusalem for their coronations and then by the Venetian merchants of the Renaissance, the city of Famagusta in Cyprus faced significant challenges after it fell to the Ottomans in 1571 and more recently after the Turkish invasion in 1974. As a consequence of Cyprus’ division and Northern Cyprus’ unrecognised political status, international help for Famagusta’s precious and fragile heritage stalled.

For nearly two decades, Prof Michael Walsh has been captivated by Famagusta’s rich and endangered heritage. Now a professor of art history at NTU’s School of Art, Design and Media, Prof Walsh successfully nominated the city for inclusion in the World Monuments Fund Watch List of endangered sites in 2008 and 2010. He then initiated the first restoration of a 14th-century church mural called “The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste”.

Laser scanning of Famagusta’s 14th-century Carmelite church. Credit: Solvotek Engineering/ Michael Walsh.

To bring Famagusta’s history to a wider audience, Prof Walsh recently collaborated with Singapore-based media company Hiverlab to develop a 4D interactive storytelling experience of Famagusta’s Armenian church.

The project uses data derived from laser scanning, historical sketches, photographs, and oral and written records to model the church’s exteriors and interiors. Using virtual and augmented reality tools, viewers can observe the changing walls over the centuries.

See the restoration of a famous 14th-century church fresco in Famagusta. You can also take a virtual tour—in space and time—through Famagusta’s Armenian church.
This article appeared first in NTU’s research & innovation magazine Pushing Frontiers (issue #14, December 2018).

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