Glasgow School of Art to create interactive experience of Mackintosh restoration

GSAThe Glasgow School of Art (GSA), in partnership with Scottish digital media and software studio ISO, is developing an ‘immersive exhibit’ to showcase the restoration of the Mackintosh Building.

Researchers from the GSA’s School of Simulation and Visualisation (SimVis) and ISO’s developers will use 3D digital scans of the building and plaster casts, which were inside when fire swept through it in 2014, to create the interactive experience.

The exhibit will offer visitors the opportunity to engage more fully with the restoration process through the story of how the collection of plaster casts were conserved and restored.

The prototype will take around six months to develop, and once completed the technology could then be applied to other aspects of the Mackintosh Building restoration, and to create similar experiences for museums, art installations, visitor attractions, and more.

It is one of three strategic projects GSA alumni ISO are collaborating on with SimVis. Others include user testing on ISO’s digital interactive work for the new V&A Museum in Dundee, and ISO’s sponsorship of a PhD in Immersive Sound at the GSA.

“The opportunity to return to the Mackintosh, working with SimVis to develop and deploy new visitor experiences is very exciting,” said Damien Smith, founding partner of ISO. “We want to leverage the GSA’s renowned research skills for real world applications to shape new digital experiences.”

Steve Love, senior researcher at SimVis, added: “The prototype will be an exemplar of how state of the art digital technology can be used to enhance the visitor experience.”

It is being funded through a grant of almost £75,000 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). One of only a handful of projects to be awarded the maximum grant from an AHRC call for projects focussed on the next generation of immersive experiences, it beat off competition from around 100 other proposals.

The exhibit will be part of wider programme of exhibitions and events for the reopening of the Mackintosh Building in 2019.

Professor Tom Inns, director of The Glasgow School of Art, said: “Glasgow’s creative economy is developing through collaborations, including those between higher education institutions and companies at the cutting edge of digital design.

“We are delighted to be working with our strategic industry partner, ISO, on this project to explore innovative approaches to maximizing the potential of new immersive and interactive technologies.”