Çatalhöyük Archive Report: RP 2004-07

Fall 2004
The Remediated Places project .started in the Fall of 2004 with the idea of collecting together interview footage (audio and/or video) of members of the Çatalhöyük Research Project as well as visitors on their memories of sensorial experience at the site.

Summer 2005During the summer of 2005 Ruth Tringham (funded by the UC Berkeley Townsend Center for the Humanities) and Michael Ashley (both UC Berkeley) and Steve Mills (University of Wales, Cardiff, UK, funded by the British Academy) developed this concept to embrace an underlying theme of videowalks. The idea of videowalks was based on artist
title=”Janet Cardiff” target=”_blank”>Janet Cardiff’s videowalks in museums and other installations in which the user walks along a path, following the path set by a video-camera which plays the pre-recorded walks as he/she looks at the viewer and walks . The idea of Cardiff’s walks is to create a parallel experience of the now and the past. The user wears binaural microphones and the only sounds that are heard are those of the pre-recorded (past) walk. The desired result is a heightened sensorial experience and confusion (RET and MA both experienced this in her SF MOMA walk). Chris Witmore, currently of Brown University has also developed such “peripatetic video” for Classical archaeological sites in the Mediterranean . The design of the Remediated Places walks for Çatalhöyük was to create walks between and around nodes of activity on the East Mound which could be followed with camcorders in on-site or on-line on an Internet version. However, our aim was to enhance the walks with thematic selections of supplementary materials of images, sounds, and video, which would encourage lateral thinking as the user took the walk physically or virtually. The themes at that time were Sensorial Experience, Memory, and Information. We designed the walks and the supplementary materials for general visitors as well as other archaeologists.

During July 2005 we created the walks. For this purpose, Ruth Tringham brought a SonyVX2000 camcorder and a FigRig designed as a flexible steadycam by director Mike Figgis. Steve Mills, whose specialization is auditory archaeology, brought both an iRiver H320 digital audio recorder with binaural microphones and a Garmin GPS so that the route of the walks could be mapped in a GIS.

Ruth and Steve with FigRig 2005
Figure 1: Ruth with camcorder and FigRig and Steve with digital audio recorder and GPS at the 4040 Area on the East Mound

Fifteen Videowalks were created across the East Mound, around the mound, and in the Flotation and Compound areas. Some of these walks are nodes, such as Building 5, Building 3, South Area etc. and some are paths between. The camera records the walking pace without any commentary so that only ambient sound can be heard. These can then be integrated with a variety of additional audio and other video.

RP_Interface01_SM_Slide 2

Figure 2: Representation in the design phase of Remediated Places project nodes and paths on the East Mound


Figure 3: Walk 1, from the Guardhouse to the North, represented with possible stops and digressions in viewing and listening

Much of the video footage that would supplement and enhance the videowalks themselves is designed to be harvested from the regular video database of the Çatalhöyük Research Project. The earliest of this is that taken by the team from Karlsrühe, Germany in 1996-1998. The Science Museum of Minnesota has also provided video footage from 1998-2000. A large body of video footage was recorded by the BACH team from 1997-2003 and there is video footage recorded by the main CRP team. In addition, during July 2005, Ruth Tringham recorded video footage specifically to act as enhancing material for the themes of sensorial experience of the Remediated Places videowalks. Some of this footage includes extreme close-ups of the archaeological process in excavation, flotation, and lab-work.

Audio recordings had not been collected as part of the regular excavation recording. However, during 2004 Steve Mills had begun to make recordings of the excavation process, and a variety of activities (cleaning, plastering) in the Replica House as part of an auditory archaeology study. These recordings became the first audio contribution to supplement and enhance the videowalks of the Remediated Places project. In July-August 2005, Steve continued this work, making recordings of ambient sound on and around the mound and the village of Küçükköy to enhance the senses of place theme of the videowalks.

May-June 2006
During 2006, RET, MA, and SM did not participate in the field season at Çatalhöyük. Steve Mills, however, was able to draw on a British Academy grant to visit San Francisco and Berkeley to continue our collaborative research in the Remediated Places project for 6 weeks during May-June. During this time, the three of us had a very productive time thinking further about the concept and design of the project in terms of on-site and on-line interface building and installation. Blog postings from this period .
A very important aspect of the research was the design and data entry of the indexing/cataloging of the video and audio recordings of the Remediated Places project. During 2005-2006 Jason Quinlan and Ruth Tringham had already captured the entire video collection from the BACH excavation 1997-2003, some of which included converting non-digital Hi-8 tapes. We had worked out the protocols of capturing the video as previews (NT/Off-Line) in a reduced resolution format using the video-indexing software SquareBox CatDV/Live Capture. The preview format allowed us to store digital versions of all the tapes on a 500GB external drive, and yet be able to watch the videos in enough detail to index them after capture. The full cataloging of the BACH Video Catalog is still in process.
However, while Steve Mills was in San Francisco, we followed the same protocols in creating previews and a catalog of all of the videos recorded during 2005 specifically for the Remediated Places project, including the videowalks themselves. Moreover, full details for every clip were entered in the CatDV catalog, including relevance to Videowalk Legs and themes, and other descriptive remarks.

July-August 2006
In 2006, Colleen Morgan (UC Berkeley) joined the Remediated Places project. She was the only member of the project who participated in the 2006 field season at Çatalhöyük. In July and August 2006, she recorded video footage specifically to act as enhancing material for the theme of memory of the Remediated Places videowalks. This footage includes video interviews with a large number of the team participating in the excavation at that time.
Colleen also carried out a number of tests on-site of walking while following one of the 2005-recorded videowalks viewed on a video-iPod or while watching a thematic video (for example, for the “memory” theme to watch a video of excavating Building 3 while walking around the area of the now filled-in and invisible Building 3). One of the most successful tests was to watch the video-recording of the first firing of the oven in the Replica House while sitting or walking around the Replica House itself.

November 2006-Feb 2007
In November 2006, Ruth Tringham and Michael Ashley were invited to present the results of the Remediated Places project in the symposium “Beyond E-Text” sponsored by the Visual Anthropology Association at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in San Jose, California.

RP User Walk Interface

Figure 4: Still shot of the interface designed for the presentation at the AAA meeting 2006, showing the user constructed walk

This presentation resulted in a number of good developments for the project:

  • We articulated very explicitly the theoretical basis for the project in the concepts of database narratives in New Media technology and the cultural geography literature on the senses of place (Tringham)
  • We developed a working model for the on-line (and possible on-site) format of the Catalhoyuk video-walks (Ashley building on the concept that he and Steve Mills had designed)
  • We put into practice the performance format of the Remediated Places project, with the help of UC Berkeley graduate students in archaeology, including Colleen Morgan). An excerpt from the performance may be viewed here.
  • After the presentation/performance we were invited to transform it into an article for the first on-line version of Visual Anthropological Review. In this enterprise we were joined by Steve Mills. The final draft has been reviewed and, as of September 2007, is awaiting publication.

July 2007

Ruth Tringham participated in the excavations in the South shelter from 5th until 18th July, 2007. Steve Mills arrived 19 July 2007. Together they carried out activities around the Remediated Places project until July 31, 2007:

  • Videowalks were added through the same system as that developed in 2005 of parallel video and audio recording. The new videowalks comprised four walks on and around the West Mound, including the walk from the East to the West Mound; new walks on the East Mound especially in the North Area to take into account the changes that had happened since 2005, such as the dismantling of the North shelter, the expanded excavation of the 4040 Area, and the planned shelter structure over the North Area. We also added the walk to Kücükköy, and one in the fields around the East Mound.
  • Additional GPS-referenced audio recordings for ambient sounds on and around the East and West mounds, the Replica House and the Compound. These were co-coordinated to occur at different times of the day and night to capture daily variations in local sounds produced by animal, insect and human daily rhythms and the weather.
  • Additional video footage including close-ups of excavation and lab process (hand-ballets), close-ups of the excavation in the West Mound and TP Area (conservation and drawing), and time-lapse videos of the East Mound and Compound areas across a 24-hour time period.
  • All video was captured in preview form and the resulting clips were cataloged using SquareBox CatDV according to the four themes developed by the project (in relation to the Remixing Çatalhöyük project).
  • We developed valuable protocols for transferring the CatDV catalogued data and metadata to Extensis Portfolio, the software used for cataloging the Çatalhöyük Research project image media. More details about Portfolio . The aim was for both of us more easily to exchange audio and video data across platforms and make it accessible on the Web. In addition, Portfolio seems to enable a richer handling of metadata. We plan to serve the Remediated Places data from Media Vault Project at UC Berkeley (Michael Ashley). More details may be found here and here .
  • On July 30th, we conducted a trial of walking on different legs and noting the viewing conditions on the video iPod:
  • On Guard to S Shelter walk: RET: Can’t see very well, but can hear it. SM: not that bad seeing we have sun directly overhead. RET: Certain angles: SM: fiddleiness of it. As you’re walking along, not good. Just audio would be fine. Might not work well in heat. Good step/walking sounds.
  • Looking in the iPod in east part of South Shelter. RET: Whole screen is very reflective. Always? Yes. Surface of the thing itself. Good Roddy scraping sounds. iPod sound of wheel. Listening to opera. Still very glary. SM: Must be other things with bigger screen. RET: iPhone. Watch BACH area. Reflective brought up many times. Camcorder, but cannot walk around with it.
  • Looking in the iPod in west part of South shelter: RET: can see things better on iPod than in east part. Play Mira’s Story. SM: it is quite visible, if you position it right, less glare. RET: Can’t see it, now I can. Down here is much less glary. SM: reflection of roof is what is causing problems. Need to try it on canvas; try it in TP. Wires of iPod very annoying.
  • TP iPod. Canvas shelter: Much better; can see everything; but new North shelter probably won’t be this non-reflective material.
  • Walking back to Guardhouse at 3pm: People are interested in process. At 5pm no one is working, so can’t view/participate in process, feel very alienated.
  • Viewing iPod in Replica House: Very good and bright. Watching Mira lighting the first fire while sitting in the RP. Mono? Really enhances experience in the RP.
  • Museum: An on-line contribution comments opportunity. Have a locally running Remixing Catalhoyuk?

Before our departure copies of media, catalogs, and metadata were given to Jason Quinlan for the Çatalhöyük Research Archive and possible website serving (via Stanford U).
While we were at Çatalhöyük in 2007, we engaged in three other activities that are relevant to this narrative:

  • In collaboration with artist Eva Bosch, we experimented with the shadows on the light well that was created by the ladder hole in the Replica House to create a shadow puppet play about the life history of the East Mound. The creation process of the play – named Shadowhöyük – was filmed and the play itself was made into a film that was shown to the excavation team. The design and process is described in more detail by Eva Bosch in her Archive Report. Copies (3) of the film and footage of the project were left in Turkey in both DVD-Rom and DVD-RAM format for the Çatalhöyük Research Archive. The film may also be viewed on the Okapi Island in Second Life (see below) and downloaded from here or here.
  • On July 17, 2007, Ruth Tringham gave a presentation to the Çatalhöyük team about the three interrelated projects, of which the Remediated Places project is one. These are three very different kinds of narratives that build out of the Çatalhöyük research media database. In addition to the Remediated Places project is the Remixing Çatalhöyük website and Okapi Island in Second Life. Remixing Çatalhöyük has been variously described as a database narrative and as a multimedia exhibition and research archive. It was launched on the Internet in October 2007 and may be accessed here. It features the investigations and data of the Çatalhöyük Research Project, especially that of the Berkeley Archaeologists at Çatalhöyük (BACH). The aim of the website is to engage the public of all ages in the exploration of primary research data through four themed collections that are selected from the research database. One theme – on the Life-History of People, Places, and Things also includes a K-12 activity module. Other themes are the Senses of Place, Archaeology at Multiple Scales, and the Public Face of Archaeology. The public are invited to download media items that are licensed with a Creative Commons 3.0 license, and to, create original projects, and contribute their own “remixes” about Çatalhöyük. Remixing Çatalhöyük highlights and supports a multi-vocal approach to history, where the global, online community is invited to participate in the dialogue alongside the physical, local community. A Turkish version of the entire site is easily accessed by a toggle button. The project was funded predominantly by the US Department of Education. More information about the project can be found here.
  • The third related project is Okapi Island in Second Life, a mirror of the East Mound at Çatalhöyük, sharing the research of the archaeological project and its interpretation on this 3-D virtual world that may be visited here. Okapi Island is currently being developed by the same team that developed Remixing Çatalhöyük and Remediated Places. Even the Remediated Places videowalks are being mirrored on Okapi Island. More information

Conclusions and Future Plans
We have concluded that by the end of the 2007 season, we had amassed enough video and audio recording with those from the BACH database and other video-recordings from CRP and Science Museum of Minnesota for the immediate needs of the Remediated Places project. The Visual Anthropology Review article contributed a great deal to our ideas for the on-line interface and its “installation”. The most urgent need is to develop concepts and planning for an on-site installation of the video-walks at Çatalhöyük. Our plan is to carry out some proof-of-concept tests at more accessible sites before embarking on the more expensive testing at Çatalhöyük. For example, in May 2008, Ruth Tringham will teach an intensive two-week workshop/field course at the San Francisco Presidio to test and develop digital, wireless, and other technologies in the construction of interpretive walks. Further discussion is planned with a broader audience at the World Archaeological Congress in Dublin, Ireland. In addition, Steve Mills is analyzing data collected from a series of sound experiments conducted in 2005 and 2007 within and immediately around the Replica House. These investigate the acoustic properties of the Replica House and the sounds that can be heard in different spaces and that propagate through walls and roofs. It is hoped that this will inform our understanding of how sound may have influenced senses of place within the built environment on the mounds in the past thus contributing to the Remediated Places project.

We have divided our future plans into those that are immediately feasible with the given content and technology at Çatalhöyük, those that could be implemented with further developments in communication technology, and those that – for the moment – are just dreams.

Immediately Feasible

  • 1 minute video or audio clips based around user sensations (eg stone in shoe, where are the stones from?; thirsty; where did they get water, off site? Dry dusty>Marshy environment in prehistory; dust> wind, excavations, painting, tools, sounds)
  • Turkish and English
  • Paths would have audio prompts based on personal experience
  • OR pace would be kept by feet on gravel sounds, then audio would prompt user to stop, look up, down, out (based on experience of path)
  • Museum: local database of options, mirrors on-line interface and experience except that on-site is immediate and additional. These movies and sounds can be longer and more complex

Implementable with some IT developments (eg Broadband or satellite signal)

  • W/ DSL or satellite cell, iPhone triggers around the site video/sound/options


  • o iPod transmits to special glasses displaying video walk in one eye, other eye options.

~ by chimeraspider on November 7, 2007.

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