|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Monday, September 25, 2023
|For shut-in pilgrims, the world's holiest sites are a click away|
The Holy City allows you to experience the Old City of Jerusalem during Passover, Easter and Ramadan in one of the most complex volumetric VR Projects produced to date.
by Debra Kamin
NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- For nearly two years, Eilat Lieber, director and chief curator of the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalems Old City, has been excited for this April, when Passover, Easter and Ramadan touchstone holidays of three major religions would collide for the first time in nearly two decades.
To prepare for the 400,000 or so tourists who had been projected to visit Jerusalem in April, the Tower of David Museum began collaborating with two virtual reality production houses Blimey, based in Israel, and OccupiedVR, based in Canada to create an immersive augmented reality experience for the crowds expected at its medieval stone citadel.
And then the coronavirus shut everything down. Israel closed its borders to foreign visitors; all nonresidents are now banned from the Old City. So Lieber made the decision to put The Holy City, a virtual reality experience that lets viewers drop in on Jerusalems holiest sites and festivals, online for free. Her move came as virtual reality experiences of holy sites across the globe are more readily available, allowing shut-in pilgrims of multiple religions a window into virtual worship in an unprecedented time.
We thought about the people from all over the world who wont be able to come here this year, and how we can bring the spirit of Jerusalem to them, Lieber said in a phone interview from Jerusalem. This year, all the festivals are canceled, but we can still show the beauty of Jerusalem to the world.
The Holy City, a documentary shot in stereoscopic, 360-degree virtual reality, takes viewers to some of Jerusalems most important religious events: the Holy Fire ceremony (the Orthodox Easter celebrations at the Holy Sepulchre); Ramadan prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, and the priestly blessings for Passover at the Western Wall. The documentary consists of footage from the 2019 ceremonies as well as sweeping shots of Jerusalems archaeology and architecture.
One thousand miles south of Jerusalem, in Saudi Arabia, the annual Hajj pilgrimage which traditionally brings some 2 million or more Muslim faithful to Mecca has also been banned this year. Ehab Fares, the chief executive of BSocial, a digital agency in Cairo, said he could never have imagined that Mecca would be closed when he began working on an updated version of Experience Mecca, an app that offers a virtual walk-through of the Kaaba, Islams holiest site. He is aware that the timing will likely mean a spike in downloads. First released in 2017 through OculusVR, Experience Mecca uses 3D modeling to give viewers a firsthand walk-through of Islams holiest city and the rhythmic circumambulation of the Tawaf ritual that bookends each annual Hajj.
The application is built by Vhorus, BSocials production arm, and its 2.0 version will be available for Google Cardboard, the technology giants virtual reality platform, before Ramadan begins April 23.
The timing was purely coincidence, Fares said in a phone interview from Cairo. We were planning to release the updated version in June or July for the Hajj pilgrimage, but when the epidemic hit the world, the mosque and all the landmarks were locked and no one can enter. So I asked our team, please accelerate.
Fares says that Experience Mecca was not designed as a substitute for the Hajj, but in a time of lockdown, it does offer an opportunity to connect to the ritual.
Its not a replacement for the real experience, he said. But its educational and inspiring, and it gets you closer to the experience.
And in Rome, where Holy Week usually sees crowds of tens of thousands, this year the pope will preach in the absence of the faithful. Catholics who would have otherwise attended Easter services, including Palm Sunday Mass, Good Friday commemoration and the Easter Vigil, have all been banned because of the coronavirus pandemic, but those who still wish to drop in to Vatican City virtually can do so via the Vaticans website, where a number of landmarks can be visited in 360-degree immersive panoramas, thanks to a 12-year collaboration between the Vatican and Villanova University.
If someone wanted to see these locations, or, better yet, if they wanted to get themselves into the spirit of their sacred season, they could set up a virtual pilgrimage to all the papal basilicas, said Dr. Frank Klassner, a computer science professor at Villanova who has helped oversee the project. More than ever, these experiences are very valuable right now.
For Nimrod Shanit, a Jewish Israeli who created The Holy City and co-directed it alongside Timur Musabay, a Canadian Muslim, theres also a silver lining to this homebound holiday season.
Jerusalem is a holy ancient city for Jews, Christians and Muslims, Shanit said. In times of crisis, people do look for guidance from something more powerful than they are. And if they are looking to connect virtually to their faith this year, I hope they wont see just their religion, theyll see how all three religions are sharing this moment, and this need for the power of spirituality.
April 11, 2020
Christie's to pay up to $16.7 million fine over tax violations
Roy De Forest's greatness shines even in a virtual display
The Beatles' legend lives on, 50 years after break-up
Paul McCartney's "Hey Jude" lyrics sold for $910,000 at Julien's Auctions
Ongoing exhibitions and sales at Messum's despite isolation
Mort Drucker, master of the Mad caricature, is dead at 91
Russia opens probe after Prague removes Soviet statue
Can comic books survive the coronavirus era?
NADA updates 2020 event calendar due to COVID-19
Bernie Wrightson original art, Frank Frazetta painting, 'Variety Store Collection' make auction debuts at Heritage
Ahmed Ismail Hussein, venerable Somali musician, dies at 91
Bendigo Art Gallery presents an online tour of Bessie Davidson & Sally Smart: Two artists and the Parisian avant-garde
For shut-in pilgrims, the world's holiest sites are a click away
Lessons in constructive solitude from Thoreau
P·P·O·W to represent Guadalupe Maravilla
The Royal Institute of British Architects announces new Board of Trustees
Extremely rare silver penny of the boy king Edward the Martyr to be sold by Dix Noonan Webb
Overlooked no more: F.N. Souza, India's anti-establishment artist
Lincoln Center cancels summer programs because of coronavirus
Trees are planted on Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen's rooftop garden
Quinn's to auction antique and collectible dolls, fine and decorative art, April 15
From prominent Turkish philanthropist to political prisoner
Virtual museum: Walters Art Museum announces new digital engagement efforts
Art Gallery of South Australia encourages virtual engagement for young people with teen-led event
When Can I remove branches from a tree?
Where to Buy TikTok Likes?
Online gaming booms as virus lockdowns keep millions at home
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.