People in Ukraine are now employing 3D modelling technology to protect national heritage from being destroyed by the Russian military during the invasion.
The Danish UNESCO National Commission and Blue Shield Denmark are beginning a new effort to digitally preserve Ukraine’s important buildings, statues, and monuments, many of which are under threat.
The project named “Backup Ukraine” is repurposing Polycam, a sophisticated prosumer program that allows you to use an iPhone or iPad to 3D scan any physical object and distribute it to let anyone in Ukraine quickly scan and upload digital renderings of significant.
The idea, initially devised by Virtue—in-house Vice’s creative agency—is to use the visual data gathered and saved by the Polycam app to create digital copies that can be shared with the globe and potentially aid in reconstruction. Ukraine boasts seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites for cultural significance, but Backup Ukraine’s goals are beyond that.
UNESCO has never done anything like this, and while Polycam has scanned a small mining town with drones as an experiment, it was not in the midst of a war, and it was not in collaborative efforts with museums or other cultural preservation authorities, according to Tao Thomsen, creative director of innovation at Virtue.
“The idea came out of genuine terror of what would happen if Putin succeeded in wiping out the material basis of their history,” says Thomsen.
“Polymetric scanning is one of our ’10 obsessions,’ technologies that we deem to have breakthrough potential right around the corner, and through which we view current events to create novel and thought-provoking applications.”
“War claims more than lives. It can cost a country irreversible damage to its national spirit. This is why the protection of cultural heritage is crucial for any conflict. And during an ongoing war, traditional methods of cultural preservation are under pressure. So, innovative technologies are a very welcome assistance,” said Danish UNESCO National Commission chair Elsebeth Gerner Nielsen.
Backup Ukraine encourages residents to join a volunteer corps headed by the Ukrainian Heritage Emergency Rescue Initiative representatives before attempting to photograph works in public. The software is only intended for usage in areas with no immediate threat of conflict.