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Dollhouse view of Widener Library Great Reading Room by Matt Cook, the digital scholarship program manager for Harvard Library. Courtesy of Rus Gant
Dollhouse view of Widener Library Great Reading Room by Matt Cook, the digital scholarship program manager for Harvard Library. Courtesy of Rus Gant

November 19, 2021, 12:30 pm

Friday, November 19
ACT Cube (E15-001)
In person event

A 39,000-Year History of Virtuality is a journey through time and space to explore other forms of reality, called “virtuality,” through the rich past, present and future of human immersive creativity, vision, ingenuity and culture.

This journey will follow the very human quest for human-made immersive environments that seem to our senses to be real but actually are concoctions of our imagination and our mind’s ability to synthesize many variations of reality from a multitude of sensory inputs.

We will journey from the caves of Southern France at the end of the last Ice Age to today’s high-tech Boston and on into the future, with Shenzhen and fast-rising Asia, as we trace our human trail of immersive creation and imagination and its myriad forms through an ever evolving alternate set of virtual realities.

The story is much more than a technology story however, although the full history of the many technologies involved will be explored. It is really a very ancient story, about art culture and storytelling itself—and the human desire to represent in an immersive way the world we live in and the many worlds we wish we lived in, past, present and future.

This journey will be a tour de force exploration of these alternate realities past, present and future.

Rus Gant is a well-regarded international multi-media artist, XR Architect, computer engineer, educator and visual futurist. He is currently on the Research staff at Harvard University in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences, where he is the Director of the Visualization Research Laboratory and the Director of the Virtual Harvard Project, he is also a recent Research Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Center for Media Studies and is on the adjunct faculty at Tokyo’s Showa Women’s University’s Institute for Language and Culture. He is currently pursuing work in the future of real-time 3D computer graphics and imaging for virtual production, next generation virtual reality, augmented reality and telepresence for science teaching and research. He has served as the Lead Technical artist for the Giza 3D project at Harvard reconstructing the pyramids, temples and tombs on the Egyptian Giza Plateau in virtual reality. He is a past fellow at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies and the Center for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University. For more than 40 years he has applied his visualization skills to work in art, computer science, science education, archaeology and museology for some of the world’s leading museums and universities. For more than 50 years his art practice has been about exploring new media to tell old stories. As a computer hardware and software engineer he has constantly been at the forefront of the science of computer visualization. As a researcher and artist he has created and developed new techniques in 3D visualization, virtual reality and digital museology and archaeology. These techniques have often been applied to scientific research in multiple disciplines including the reconstruction of the art and architecture of ancient cultures.

Find out more about Gant and Harvard’s Visualization Laboratory here and here.


This lecture is hosted by ACT Studio Professor Gediminas Urbonas, TA Alice Jia Li Song, and the ACT course 4.322/4.323 Introduction to Three-Dimensional Art Work taught by Tobias Putrih and TA Ardalan SadeghiKivi. Supported by Gearoid Dolan, Technical Instructor in Media.