Dr. Elina Gertsman brings the medieval world to life through her evocative storytelling. Conveniently, the galleries at the Cleveland Museum of Art house one of the most incredible collections of medieval art and artifacts in the world, so she often brings her students there to look at them. However, these objects that are now behind glass — tapestries, reliquaries, automata, and more — were meant to be lived with, touched, handled, and shared. She wanted to provide an opportunity for her students to understand these objects not only intellectually and visually, but in an embodied way, as well.
In the app developed during her fellowship (Immersive Realms), users walk into a mixed reality space and see an array of holographic objects (e.g., laser-scanned reliquaries) that they can pick up, scale, and place throughout the space. Dr. Gertsman employs scented incense and musical recordings to make these spaces multi-sensorial and as evocative as possible. In future development, the team hopes to build in the sense of touch by mapping the holograms to 3-D printed objects.