A new project aims to scan and digitally preserve an array of cultural relics in Ukraine before they're potentially destroyed in the Russian invasion.
Called “Backup Ukraine,” the non-profit project is in partnership with the Danish National Committee of the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Blue Shield Denmark, Polycam, and a VICE media group
Using the Polycam app, people can capture data of cultural heritage relics and sites using their camera, then use the app to create three-dimensional renderings of the works, digitally preserving them away from the bombs and missiles.
The idea is that anyone can volunteer, although they are currently limiting the capture of public works to a volunteer corps with written permission from authorities given the potential danger of doing so. The data will be openly available through Polycam’s Ukraine data archive, but all rights will belong to the individual creator by default
It’s hoped a wide range of objects and scenes will be entered into the online archive, from ornate statues and historic paintings to blown-up cars and street corners. So far, people in Ukraine have scanned and uploaded a variety of objects including Russian tanks, schoolrooms, homes, and even some Jenga block towers.
It's not quite clear what the end game of the project is; there's little explanation of what they ultimately aim to do with the digital scans. Nevertheless, the website outlines that they aim to use digital technology as a means of ensuring Ukraine's national identity is kept alive and accessible for future generations regardless of how this war turns out.
“Destroying a country’s cultural heritage is the fastest way to erase their national identity. In light of Russia’s false denial of Ukrainian sovereign and unique national identity, we take the destruction of the country’s history extremely seriously,” Backup Ukraine said on their website.
“The project partners all found great value in assisting traditional methods of cultural preservation with newer technological innovations. We want to put this new technology in the hands of the citizens of Ukraine so that they may capture anything and everything that they deem culturally significant to preserve forever in 3D,” they add.