Saturday, 31 October 2009

Virtual reality

One of the highlights of a visit to the abbey of Cluny is the 3D film shown as part of the visit. But (I think as part of the Cluny 2010 celebrations) the Cluny abbey is introducing more things to show what the abbey looked like before the French revolution. One of the latest things introduced recently are screens which display “virtual reality”.
The screens are a sort of LCD screens, approx. 50 cm wide and 1 m tall, standing on a pole. The screens can be turned by the spectators. What one sees on the screen is what one would haven seen in the days the abbey was still there. The view changes when the screen is turned. in French these screens are called “bornes”, which meens something like milestones. The first one was installed in the remaining part of the transept. This one can be turned 360 degrees, and shows the views inside the church from the transept.
In the past the abbey was protected by walls, gates and towers. one of these towers is the Tour des Fromages, whis is located on Cluny’s main street. recently a second borne has been installed in the attic of this tower. It follows the same concept. the moment the screen is turned slightly, the view changes. The interesting feature is, that when one comes close enough to the screen to see the week market at the foot of the tower, the same market, and the people walking around it, are shown on the screen. Only the background of the market has changed to the abbey in pre-revolutionary days.
To me this is a stunning piece of modern virtual reality technique, and it certainly adds something to a visit of the abbey and of the tower (which requires a separate ticket). Apart from this Virtual Reality screen is the tower worth a visit in its own right. The access to the tower is inside the Office the Tourisme, and the wooden stairs are extremely steep. Once having climbed the stairs, one finds an attic with big holes in the walls (no windows) which allow stunning views of Cluny and surroundings. And one can take pictures of the lovely panoramas without being hindered by the glare of glass.

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle

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