Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland 2023
- Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland 2023
The festivity of life; the Nordic World Heritage VR-Network sees a brilliant past - and future - at the Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland 3 - 5 oktober 2023.
After visiting four fabolous World Heritage sites; Kongernes Jelling, Kvarken Archipelago, Thingvellir and Röros – the time had come for the fifth and last site; Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland. To welcome the VR-Network is a lovely mission. After the nearly three project years we know really are a network in a true sense.
“The Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland” are seven listed farmhouses and has been a World Heritage Site since the summer of 2012. There is a rich variation of older and well preserved farmhouses in Hälsingland, in 36 parishes over four centuries. The seven listed farmhouses represents nearly thousands of other farms in the landscape. The Hälsingland farmers had a habit of building large and lavishly decorating rooms for celebration. The richly painted banquet rooms were used only for important occasions, such as weddings. So the large festivity rooms were only used sometimes only one or two times under a lifetime for festivities; the festivities of life.
The farms are mostly privately owned, so a question was raised; is it possible to increase accessibility to World Heritage through virtual storytelling? Can it attract more people to discover World Heritage with the help of new technology? Real rooms from one of the seven listed World Heritage farms "Bortom Åa" - Gammelgården in Fågelsjö, have recreated in a VR environment. In the environment, a visitor can move freely, study the room, paintings, furniture and move objects, just like in real life, fixed from any place in the world.
The equipment that is used is an HTC Vive and the experience is programmed using the Unity game engine. The physical space has been designed as a degree project at the Industrial Design program at the University of Gävle. The aim and purpose is to increase accessibility to the World Heritage and attract new target groups to explore an exciting part of history. And its also an investigative, experimental way of getting to know VR as a new medium and tool for communication, design and storytelling.
So, alltough the World Heritage site is situated i Hälsingland, it felt natural to start the fifth ”meet up” for the VR-Network in the afternoon 10 Swedish miles south at the county museum, Länsmuseet in Gävle, where the VR-experience is built up.
Everyone had the opportunity to try and experience the latest edition, and of course the room itself was interesting. How it is built up like a small, ”private” room with padded walls with bells that warn when you are on your way ”into the wall”. A visitor can move around without any human helper, and if you are company, school class etc you can watch outside what the ”player” see´s an experience.
After the presentation och the site and the VR-roomexperience, the network members made there way up to Hälsingland where the rest of the conference were to take place.
The second day the network woke up to the foggiest day ever, wich was a little bit scary and confusing though one of the programme items was to row down the river Ljusnan in a Viking boat. Though this was a secret for the members. Only the organizers felt worried…
Josephine Rydberg is a member in the VR-network and works with cross media at Kultur Gävleborg but also has been devoting 50% of his working time to research since autumn 2018. The research is a collaboration between Region Gävleborg's Center for Research and Development (CFUG) and Stockholm University of the Arts (SKH).
The research project is called "Dramaturgy for Participatory Practices" and is about finding a responsive dramaturgy for stories with a participatory audience. The project has a practical focus and compares analog formats with virtual ones. So based on Josephine's experience and research work she held an interesting lecture about social and immersive platforms.
IVAR Studios is a small team of professional storytellers with unique qualities and specialties to become a award-winning team as they are. And it was a really good experience to have both Fredrik Edström (founder/producer) and Jonathan Lövholm (immersive producer) as guests.
IVAR studios are passionate about telling unforgettable stories in new formats and with new technology. They've worked with great brands that – in there opinion - make the world a better place, industries that educate future generations, and guided visitors through their impressive productions and processes. IVAR helped lots of museums tell their fascinating stories in a more compelling way, showing places that few people can reach, an impact in so many different ways.
Under a few hours we did get a very inspiring lecture of so many options we can work with, and after that we got to experience several different cases that IVAR had developed.
After the lunch the fog had fortunately lifted and the network got to meet Lasse Feltblad, who actually lives at one of the seven World Heritage farms; Gästgivars: Lasse is also a committed church boat rower and this day, maybe especially for our ”viking-friends” from Jelling and Thingvellir, the boat was converted into a Viking ship. Rowing together on the river Ljusnan is a fantastic experience, especially when the river, like this day, was mirror like.
It paved the way for this day´s big discussion and question - the future of the network and its expansion. In order to really recharge for today's discussion, the entire network had to rest for a while in the waves of the river Ljusnan and listen to the tunes of music from all the Nordic countries.
The diskussions took form at the World Heritage farm Gästgivars, and we were warmly welcomed by the farm owners Pia och Björn Ohlsson. First we got a grand tour of the farmhouse. The large festivity house at Gästgivars in Vallsta has been decorated by the stylistic painter Jonas Wallström. He had a solid schooling, which enabled him to imitate the finest English china. He also developed the art of painting stencils in a way that spread to other parts of Sweden. The farm's name comes from the Inn that was run on the farm during the 17th and 18th centuries.
After that discussions took part for the rest of the day. The Network was divided into groups to discuss evaluation of the project, survival and target image as well as strategy for organization and future funding.
Many good ideas emerged as followed:
- Continue the network
- Widing it for other sites
- Widing it from VR
- Nordic – European – World
- Create news from the sites regurlary (Nordic webb?)
- Cooperation & sharing cuts costs
- Common platform, common storytelling
- Benefits of choosing the right tools and common learning
- Long-term sustainability
- Make the World Heritage visable.
- Important that we meet up.
- A network who is special in the frontline; tecnique, art,pedagogy. We need to be innovative.
- Connect in platforms
- Youth exchange
Presumtive up coming fundings:
- Creative Innovation labs (Opens 26/10 – close 25/4 2024)
- European Networks of cultural and creative organisations (Opens 23/11 – close 7/3 2024)
- European cooperation projects (Opens 19/10 – close 23/1 2024)
Nordic Culture funds
- Project foundings (Dead line 19 february 2024)
The conference ended and as the last trip, the Mystery Tour i Berlin is ahead, we all agree to continue the discussion there. Over all the Network was totally unanimous; the Nordic World Heritage VR-Network is here to stay. But we have to broaden the participants and the traget to digital storytelling. So our new network name will be World Heritage Network for innovative dissemination, techniques & immersive storytelling (Or World Heritage Network for Innovative & Immersive Storytelling)