It opened as a permanent exhibition earlier this year, The immersive show offers Iraqis a new way to explore their most important destroyed monuments.
Through painstaking documentation, computer technology and virtual reality artistry, Qaf Lab is an innovation hub. Mosul Support Iraqi entrepreneurs.
Abdullah Bashar, then 16, saw firsthand the devastation the group caused. Five years later, while studying architecture at the University of Mosul, he had an idea.
“We were researching the heritage of our city and what it used to be,” he says. The National“That’s when I thought about virtual reality and creative ways we could show people these destroyed places and our heritage.”
Bashar and two college classmates set out to reconstruct the virtual world. Al Nuri Mosquefamous for its leaning minaret known as Al Hadba or “The Hunchback”.
Built in the late 12th century, the Al-Nuri Mosque was a prominent landmark and part of Mosul’s visual identity until it was destroyed along with its minaret by ISIS during the Battle of Mosul in 2017.
nevertheless UNESCOin cooperation with United Arab Emirates and the Iraqi government began efforts to rebuild the building last year, and in 2019 Bashar began recreating the mosque in virtual reality.
When he presented his work to Qaf Lab, the company was so impressed that they hired Bashar and his team to continue the project full-time.
Two years later, after four more heritage sites were added and their work posted online, Bashar was invited to create the exhibition that is now on display at the Mosul Heritage Museum.
Museum founder Ayoub Younes saw the project as an opportunity to connect with Mosul’s youth. “This exhibition aligns with his three goals for the museum,” he says.
“First, we have brought the city’s intellectual heritage to life. Second, we have revitalized the tourism industry.
A virtually reconstructed heritage site depicts and documents its current state, along with a digital restoration of what it looked like before it was destroyed by ISIS.
Also on display is the Umayyad Mosque, built in 642, the first in Mosul and the fifth in the Islamic world. The tomb, believed to be that of the prophet Jonah, and the Great Temple of Hatra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, feature massive structures made up of columns and smaller temples.
According to Younes, visitors (mainly Mosul residents) are emotionally connected to the exhibition, but modern technology is also an important tool for educating and raising awareness of the city’s heritage.
“The response from many visitors has been positive,” says Younes. “Not only is this new, but visitors can also experience entering an ancient legacy that has since been destroyed.”
After seeing renderings of Mosul’s reconstructed ruins, architect Raffaele Carlani, founder of Progetto Katatexilux, an Italian studio that produces multimedia exhibitions in the field of cultural heritage, said: The National Virtual reality is becoming increasingly important in how we experience such historic buildings.
“Virtual reality is a mature technology, but it’s a completely new media tool,” he says.
However, he notes that the digital interactive representation of damaged, destroyed, or unsafe sites must be accurate.
“My company is made up of archaeologists and art historians who are in constant conversation with the monument’s scientific stewards to ensure that the information conveyed is correct from a scientific point of view.”
Accuracy was one of the biggest challenges Bashar faced while reconstructing Mosul’s monuments.
A combination of blueprints, photographs, and drone footage had to be used (if safe), but finding an accurate source of the original construction proved more difficult.
Juan Aguilar, a digital archaeologist and PhD student at the University of Luxembourg, who has regularly worked on Mosul, in particular the Al Nabi Yunus Mosque, has collaborated with Bashar and Qaf’s lab to bring it up to the public. I have sourced images and videos of the building.
Bashar and Aguilar received hundreds of personal documents that provided sufficient evidence to create a historically accurate virtual reconstruction.
“Not only were we able to learn additional architectural details for the mausoleum, but it was a great example of how the public was involved in creating cultural heritage content,” says Aguilar.
Professor Mohamed Gamal Abdelmonem, Chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of Nottingham Trent, who won the Queen’s Day Prize last November for his work on digitizing endangered cultural heritage, said he believes that there are ways to preserve Old Mosul’s heritage. I am working on a similar project.
Abdelmonem said Bashar’s project is an important means of countering the violent actions of extremist groups by preserving Mosul’s legacy of ethnic and religious diversity and harmony.
However, while virtual reality is an important learning resource, he stresses that the digitally reconstructed site should not be viewed as a replacement for the physical twin.
“What you get from virtual and digital displays is a simulated curated experience for the general public to engage with.
The Mosul Heritage Museum’s virtual reality exhibits serve as a digital archive of these historic sites and as a vehicle for public engagement and learning.
But it is also grief-stricken.
“When these legacies existed, I knew very little about them,” Bassar says. “And after learning more about them, I wondered why I didn’t know our city had such history and civilization. I wish I hadn’t visited them when they were here.” have been regretting.”
Bashar’s hope that these monuments may one day physically exist again is within the realm of possibility. is in a stage.
But for now, the virtual version Bashar and his team have created can stand as a source of inspiration and knowledge for the people of Mosul, and a link to an unforgettable and venerable past.
“It’s great to see people using headsets,” says Bashar. “We see their memories come alive and it feels good.”
Updated: Nov 24, 2022, 7:59 AM