Sunday, January 25, 2009

World Heritage // our thoughts

"Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage.
What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the
Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.

UNESCO's World Heritage mission is to:
encourage countries to sign the World Heritage Convention and to ensure the protection of their natural and cultural heritage; encourage States Parties to the Convention to nominate sites within their national territory for inclusion on the World Heritage List; encourage States Parties to establish management plans and set up reporting systems on the state of conservation of their World Heritage sites; help States Parties safeguard World Heritage properties by providing technical assistance and professional training; provide emergency assistance for World Heritage sites in immediate danger; support States Parties' public awareness-building activities for World Heritage conservation; encourage participation of the local population in the preservation of their cultural and natural heritage; encourage international cooperation in the conservation of our world's cultural and natural heritage."

This is an interesting topic we came upon, the idea of preserving these various locations all over the globe as a means of providing future generations with knowledge on past cultural and natural landscapes. It is a sort of historical interconectedness between the 878 sites that they are trying to achieve. Heritage [past legacy, present conditions, and future] can have a universal application without regard to a particular territory. We are taking this idea of UNESCO's world heritage and trying to apply the three terms of our studio title acceleration, communication, and territory to it.

Acceleration/speed is extremely prevalent within this preservation project; the idea of slowing down the acceleration of these site in regards to their immediate surroundings, the anti-speed you could say, since a topic that continually comes up within the research of the heritage project it is a particular care to keep these sites from decaying over the years, but rather to flourish and remain in tack no matter how much circulation passes through. Creating a network of these 'time capsules' internationally while the rest of the world continues to age and progress is an interesting concept to us .

Territory is another idea that is applied in a similar way that speed is in that it is the idea of anti-territory; "the sites are monuments that posses a universal value and should be shared by all mankind" .

Communication is trying to create a way that these sites truly can become universal and any one person anywhere on the globe can have access to these sites whether it be physical or virtual, that one can visit and learn from these time capsules of history. We want to create a new network of transportation in conjuction with the use of current and future technologies in a virtual world to make all 878 sites accessible at any time.

The world heritage team hopes to transmit the valueable information within these sites to future generations. But there is no way to avoid eventual decay and change within the natural and cultural sites, so we came up with the proposition of cataloging the sites. The catalog process can capture the sites as they are today and continue to do so at a predetermined interval throughout their lifespan getting the various stages of change. This would allow for them to remain as they are for an infinite amount of time.

We realize though in taking pre-existing sites, some of which are already their own 'eco-systems' [a natural unit in an area functioning together on a physical and biological level], there come both advantages and disadvantages. Whenever we add something to the site whether it is in a physical world or virtual there will be a reaction from the existing system. For example the addition of a network of transportation within the specific regions containing various sites, creating a whole new sub-economy with the new flow of traffic and visitors. The reactions of these sites could develop in the appearance of a fractal [ A rough fragmented shape that can be split into parts each of which is reduced in size, a copy of the whole, a property called self-similarity. In the world of Math a fractile is an equation that undergoes iteration, a form of feedback - wikipedia]. The reactions in this sense would be based on a process of repetition, that creates infinite complexity. So in using pre-existing sites and conditions that have such value in eyes all over the globe, we are presenting ourselves with a difficult task of trying to assimilate the exisiting and our new ideas of territory, speed and communication.

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