Weaving Voices Sparks Lively Debate

Immersive technology takes on Heritage

February 7th, 2024

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It was a pleasure to welcome Dr. Tom Jackson back to Sunny Bank MIlls as part of our Weaving Voices programme of speakers.  It sparked a lively debate as he led us through exploring the potential for virtual and immersive technologies to deepen visitor understanding of sites of historical and cultural significance, such as museum collections, archives, industrial ruins and memorial sites.  To begin, he looked at the work he has done here at Sunny Bank Mills, both around the site and in the Museum & Archive.


Tom was a major contributor to last years ‘Weaving the Web’ project which started bringing our Collection to life in a digital world and set us off on bringing over 50 objects (so far) to our Online Collection.


He then moved on to talk about his work with other cultural institutions including holocaust sites and museums.  How do we use Immersive Technology to allow remote visiting of important sites, recognising that we are not all privileged to be able visit in person, whilst respecting the sites importance.  Where do we draw the line?

Finally came a lively debate on AI, its ethics and limitations…… one of these images is from our Archive, the other is AI generated.  The Archive image is titled ‘Warping Shed 1905′, teh AI image was generated using the description’ man in woollen mill warping shed 1905′  This man has never existed in this environment.  Can we still trust everything we see in a picture?


Many thanks to Dr Tom for being our guide through this minefield!

If you would like to attend some of the other ‘Weaving Voices’ events be sure to visit the Collection at Eventbrite here where you can book tickets.  We now have all speakers confirmed to 27th May, with just our closing exhibition to be announced.   So whether you want to find out more about the Archives contribution to our view of textile sustainability, how paper conservators have worked, the inspiration for ceramics and the relevance to dyeing both historically and materially, watch this space!

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