1. Introduction: The ACCORD Project

The ACCORD project worked together with ten communities of interest from all across Scotland (from Dumfriesshire to Shetland) to create permanently archived 3D digital visualisations of a variety of significant heritage sites (from rock-art to rock-climbs). Half of these communities were recruited from their ongoing involvement in Archaeology Scotland's 'Adopt-A-Monument' project, whereas the other five groups were recruited through professional connections to members on the ACCORD project team. The project was led by Dr Stuart Jeffrey, Research Fellow in International Heritage Visualisation at the Digital Design Studio (Glasgow School of Art). The other heritage professionals on the ACCORD project team were Dr Alex Hale based at what was then the Royal Commission for Ancient and Historical Monuments Scotland (now part of Historic Environment Scotland), Cara Jones, who is the Adopt-a-Monument Manager at Archaeology Scotland, and Professor Siân Jones at the University of Manchester, who is an anthropologist and heritage specialist in social value and significance. For many of the fieldwork projects we also had the assistance of MSc student (now digital heritage professional) Clara Molina-Sanchez. I was Post-Doctoral Research Assistant on the project for 12 months from 2014 through to 2015 and have a background in archaeology, museums and community engagement. Despite all the professional preoccupations we may have approached the ACCORD project with, importantly our ethos was to break down professional and 'non-professional' roles in our community engagement and for everyone to take on the role as co-producer of heritage records.

Gabriel Moshenska wrote in 2004 that 'we must recognise that archaeology is [currently] in many respects [written by specialists] and performed to a public audience … [We must] attempt to manipulate this discourse to counteract alienation, & shallow, passive consumption' (Moshenska 2004, 97). As stated by Yvonne Marshall in the Oxford Handbook of Archaeology 'most importantly, archaeologists do not stand in a privileged position with respect to the community' (Marshall 2009). Indeed in recent years, in order to address this the dynamics of community heritage have been reassembled, even leading to the question being posed, 'who needs experts?' (Schofield 2014). John Schofield argues that everyone in their own local environment has the power to challenge authoritative heritage discourse, thereby breaking down the upheld relationships between heritage expert/professional and community. Indeed, in taking a further step, Michael Shanks' proclamation that 'we are all archaeologists now' (2013) has gathered ground (Holtorf et al. 2015) and it could be argued that we are entering an emancipatory era in the practice of community heritage. This is exemplified in the AHRC's (Arts and Humanities Research Council) 'Connected Communities' highlight notice, first announced in 2014. In their words 'this programme seeks not only to connect research on communities, but to connect communities with research'. This includes supporting research into issues of 'cultural value in community contexts' and 'community and performance'. Digital heritage projects funded under this scheme, which have successfully widened inclusion of communities in the formal processes of recording heritage, include the Micropasts project run in conjunction with the British Museum (Bonacchi et al. 2014) and the Heritage Together project (Miles et al. 2015), both of which crowd-sourced the collection of data; in the former for open-source digitisation of the British Museum's collection and in the latter for the creation of an open 3D visualised resource of the prehistoric monuments of Wales.

The ACCORD project was also funded under the Connected Communities scheme. The aims of the ACCORD project looked beyond inclusion to examine the opportunities and implications of digital visualisation technologies for community engagement and research. In particular, we sought to explore communities' existing contemporary social values associated with places and to understand whether these relationships were transformed through their participation in co-design and co-production of 3D models and records of their heritage. The project also sought to reflect on the forms of significance, authenticity and value acquired by the 3D objects made as part of ACCORD. The ACCORD archive is published online by the Archaeology Data Service under a Creative Commons license for free re-use. A summary statement of social value was written with each group, archived alongside the 3D models (Jeffrey 2017).

Through a process of co-design and co-production, communities chose the monuments and sites to be recorded and subsequently co-directed and participated in the data capture, processing, and archiving. With each community group we held a focus group in which we explored what heritage sites were of significance to them and why. Together we then recorded selected monuments and sites using cutting-edge 3D digital visualisation technologies. In the main we used the consumer-level software and relatively easy to pick up, but very powerful techniques, of photogrammetry (also known as Structure From Motion/SFM) and reflectance transformation imaging (RTI). The opportunities that these technologies offer for wider participation in recording heritage has been noted previously by Reilly and Beale (2014) and Miles et al. (2015), whereby the role of the lone specialist is redundant and instead skill and knowledge is open, imparted through mentorship with the potential to empower communities of interest. Laser scanning on occasion was offered but was not preferred as it is relatively expensive and unavoidably specialist.

We have discussed in detail in another publication how the co-production methodology developed by ACCORD created more meaningful and authentic digital records and objects, while reflecting on the issue of value (Jeffrey et al. in prep). We have also published on our methodology (Jeffrey et al. 2015), so this will not be re-hashed in detail here. This article instead will reflect on the experience of participating in the making of 3D digital visualisations together with heritage professionals and community groups from my own point of view as a researcher, archaeologist and participant-observer. It is important to note that at the time of writing it is now 12 months after the end of the ACCORD project. Nevertheless, breathing space away from the whirlwind of fieldwork has allowed the dust to settle, opening a critical space for reflection from which wider themes have emerged. For example, it has become apparent that when asked about ACCORD, I rarely end up talking about the 3D digital results themselves. Instead, I always return to the experience of the actual making of the digital 3D records, the process of recording in the field and how we learned from each other, as an empowering experience for all those involved as well as being full of creative potential. I have taken this chance to reflect on this further: in particular I want to understand what seems like a paradox between the persisting idea of the objectivity of recording heritage using (passive) these technologies and the actual experience and performance of the creative process of making when engaging (active) with these technologies. This is so often overlooked and has wider relevance beyond ACCORD. In order to explore this mis-match, the article revels in the very experience and acts of making the digital visualisations created as part of ACCORD to propose that photogrammetry and RTI, and potentially laser scanning, are powerful media for inclusion, exploration and expression.

Therefore section 2 discusses the current emphasis on objectivity. How the technologies used in ACCORD were actually engaged with by people in the field is explored in the following section as performances of making in different community contexts, split into two acts; Act One reflects on working together with the Colintraive and Glendaruel Development Trust; Act Two on working together with the Rhynie Woman group in Aberdeenshire. This then leads on to a discussion of the participatory 'We' in making 3D visualisations (section 4), after which follows conclusions with some suggestions on how we can reintegrate process into our professional practice in relation to working with digital technologies in community heritage contexts (section 5).


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