Catriona Cooper

My thesis is titled “How can we use digital media to explore lived experience in later medieval buildings?”. This thesis will be based on two digital projects.

The first at Bodiam Castle will explore how visualisation produces a narrative from the observation of the archaeological record through to how the real of the simulated past is perceived. The project involves the recording of the process used to visualise the private suites of apartments to explore how the rooms would have been lived in; in this context this means looking at how the spaces would have been decorated and furnished to explore how they were used. This includes what work would have been undertaken in them, how they are furnished and decorated, the lighting conditions and who would have used the space. The recording of the entire process of creation allows an understanding of how uncertainty and assumption is inherent in the simulation process of visualising of the past. Through this analysis I will also be able to compare the results to my understanding of the furnishings of other buildings in terms of ornamentation and how the building is understood and gives social cues to those visiting it. Social cues in this context refer to how the building provides a grammar of expectation to a visitor, for example, the same layout of kitchen, services, hall and solar encourages a visitor to know where they are allowed and should access within the building.

The second project is an acoustical survey and auralisation of the chambers, chapel and Great Hall at Ightham Mote. By producing an auralisation of the buildings and rooms at Ightham Mote I intend to highlight how the experience of the past is multisensory and through the creation of the auralisation analyse the types of sounds that would have been experienced. It will allow me to question the tasks that are undertaken in different spaces, the access to these spaces and also how sounds were experienced throughout the household and how they would have been affected by different types of furnishings. In this I am working with collegues in ISVR and Music.

These projects will allow me to compare and contrast the two buildings and how living in them would have been experienced in similar and different ways. The two different approaches allow me to discuss exactly how different digital techniques can be applied to further the understanding of living in the past. It will also allow me to critically assess how we acknowledge and embrace uncertainty in the archaeological record and how it affects the process of simulation. I am a PhD student working on a thesis exploring lived experience in late medieval buildings through digital technologies. I am a Collaborative Doctoral Award student partnered with the National Trust working on a project with a history PhD student. Outside of my thesis I teach on the first year Archaeological Methods course and in summer work on the High Status Late Medieval Buildings project collaboration between University of Southampton, Northwestern University and The National Trust.  I am also involved with the  AHRC Ways of Seeing the English Domestic Interior, 1500-1700.

I complete a BA in Archaeology at Southampton in 2009 and continued straight into an MSc in Archaeological Computing (Spatial Technologies). My research interests are how acoustical and visualisation tools can be applied to explore the past as a method for recording, disseminating and also generating research. I am also interested in the role gender plays in digital humanities, buildings archaeology and medieval archaeology.