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Multi-scale physicalization of polar heritage at risk in the western canadian arctic

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The digital preservation of heritage resources has emerged as an essential method for communicating the significance of artifacts, buildings, and landscapes to descendant communities and the wider public. While virtual representations are becoming more commonplace, physical representations (physicalization) of heritage sites via 3D printing are used to a lesser degree. Physicalization provides new perspectives through the interplay between touch and vision and can facilitate a deeper understanding of the history being conveyed. This paper discusses how the physical models of heritage buildings and landscape features on Qikiqtaruk/Herschel Island Territorial Park were created from terrestrial laser scanning and UAV photogrammetry data. We demonstrate how to use this physicalization of polar heritage to communicate the significance of the buildings and landscape of the island to the local Indigenous communities and global audiences, as well as how they are being threatened by climate change. We also explore the transformation of a cove on the island into puzzles and data sculptures. In addition to the Cove, the fabricating of important buildings on larger scales has been a requirement. This multi-scale printing raises the issue of connecting the large-scale buildings with their small instances/copies on the Island (similar to focus + context visualization in the digital form). Due to the limitation of physicalization compared with digital representations, new methods, metaphors and designs are needed for supporting focus + context visualization. We have designed and implemented several such methods in our specific physicalization of heritage buildings and landscape on Qikiqtaruk/Herschel Island. We presented our physicalizations to the members of the Inuvialuit community of Aklavik NWT and received a positive response.

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We wish to thank the members of the Inuvialuit community of Aklavik NWT for their helpful feedback. The authors would also like to thank Christian Thomas and Brent Riley (Yukon Government) and Richard Gordon (Senior Park Ranger, Herschel Island/Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park) for their assistance and support. This work was supported in part by the Yukon Government and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

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Correspondence to Katayoon Etemad.

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Etemad, K., Samavati, F. & Dawson, P. Multi-scale physicalization of polar heritage at risk in the western canadian arctic. Vis Comput 39, 1717–1729 (2023).

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