EU project: HSLU makes Munch’s "Scream" a virtual experience

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( Image: Wikimedia)
( Image: Wikimedia)
The European Union is supporting a research project that focuses on the preservation and presentation of European cultural heritage with the help of artificial intelligence and virtual experiences. The Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts is involved in the project, which is worth almost 3.8 million euros.

At the Norwegian MUNCH Museum, three copies of Edvard Munch’s famous "Scream" are displayed in rotation - while one is accessible at a time, two rest in darkness. Factors such as light and humidity could otherwise cause the color to fade too much. The same fate has befallen countless artifacts from the past, from paintings to statues to textiles. Conservation is also a challenge for newer, computer-based art objects without an analog foundation ("born digital art"). Currently, the rapid development of software and data carriers means that the lifespan of such works is often only a few years. This makes the question all the more central: How can Europe’s cultural heritage be preserved for future generations? Answers and solutions are sought in the three-year EU research project PERCEIVE ( P erceptive E nhanced R ealities of C olored coll E ctions through artificial I ntelligence and V irtual E xperiences), launched in February. Multidisciplinary scientists from eight countries and 11 institutions are involved - as the only Swiss educational institution also the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU).

PERCEIVE aims to create a new way of perceiving, preserving and exhibiting European cultural heritage. This by means of five focal points: Color changes in classical sculptures, paintings, textiles and historical photographs, as well as the preservation and presentation possibilities of "Born Digital Art".

Methodologically, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual experiences are central. Among other things, AI will be used to reconstruct the original state of an art object with the help of large amounts of data or to predict its future changes. These findings will be further processed at the HSLU’s Immersive Realities Research Lab, which specializes in virtual and augmented reality research. Project manager Arthur Clay explains, "We want to bring the works to life and create a playful, location-independent approach to art." The goal, he says, is to create interactive apps to bring the original form of familiar art objects back to life - in and outside of museums, for the widest possible audience. In addition, the HSLU research group is focusing on computer-based artworks and investigating ways to preserve them in the long term and integrate them into public exhibitions.

Clay and his team are also leading the concept development for a mobile "post-Covid exhibition space": It is to be set up flexibly as a pop-up in European cities and show artworks from all eras, both as prints and virtually with the help of the apps developed. "Of course, we’re only at the very beginning of the three-year project - things are just coming together," Clay said. "But we’re proud to be involved as HSLU in this important endeavor and to bring our team’s expertise to the table."


The PERCEIVE project is funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe Framework Program for Research and Innovation with nearly 3.8 million euros. Since Switzerland is not part of "Horizon" until further notice, the funding contribution of 940,000 Swiss francs for the HSLU is borne by the federal government.

PERCEIVE was launched at the beginning of 2023 and is scheduled for completion in 2026. In addition to the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU), project participants include the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) in Italy, the Foundation for Research and Technology (FORTH) in Greece, the Fraunhofer Institute for Computer Graphics Research IGD in Germany, and the MUNCH Museum in Norway. In total, 11 institutions from eight countries are involved.