European Program Horizon 2020

Socioeconomic and Cultural Transformations in the Context of The Fourth Industrial Revolution        

Proposal Title : Values Across Space and Time

 Proposal acronym: VAST


NO.Participant organization nameCountry
3UoA – National and Kapodistrian University of AthensEL
5FTM – Fairytale Museum of CyprusCY
7FESTIVAL – Athens and Epidaurus Festival S.A.EL
8MGALILEO – Museo GalileoIT

European cultural heritage is nowadays made easily accessible through the revolutionary introduction of ICT technologies and the digitisation of cultural assets. Values are increasingly mentioned in the public sphere, as a reorientation towards values is occurring in many fields, from economics and politics, to the ethical aspects in artificial intelligence [1]. The main goal of this project is to bring values to the forefront in the field of advanced digitisation: through digitisation of mainly intangible assets (stories, personal experiences, oral history, myths, tales, legends, folktales, fairy tales, etc.) we want to study the transformation of moral values across space and time. We want to research existing collections of intangible assets expressed in natural language and trace and inter-link the values emerging from them. We want to expose audiences to moral values, collect (and digitise) their appropriations of these values. We will also create a collaborative platform to assist researchers, museums and educators to curate, re-use and re-purpose this material re-visiting moral values in the content of modern society. An emphasis will be placed in those values considered fundamental for European Union and a unifying axis for all member states, such as the respect for human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law

What we want is to understand the evolution of the European citizen, not as a socioeconomic reality, a legislative assemblage or a political conundrum, but as a mythical being. We want to follow the women and men of Europe as they take “a face from the ancient gallery” and walk on down the ages, to our mythical origins. We want to see us dressed in the attire of Gods, sing in the voices of magical beings, and form new lands of possibility. Because it is at these moments of mythos—in theatre, in fairy-tale, in fiction-writing—that the constitutive values which shape and define us, unfettered by the shackles of the treatise and escaping the domain of reality, are given free reign and full disclosure. We want to investigate these moments with the aid of experts in each field, cross-examining and synthesizing their insights, and begin to tackle a very pertinent question: How can we harness the power of mythos in an age of information noise, rapid development and societal upheaval? Not as an antidote (or poison) to truth, but as a powerful vehicle of expression, a force of humanistic values. To better understand the fictional narratives that have shaped European consciences through time, is to go through the looking glass in order to look back at ourselves.

In order to achieve the goal of the project, we examine narratives that represent significant moments of European culture/history and examine how the meaning of specific values was expressed through different narratives (tragedies, fairy tales and 17th century texts). An emphasis will be placed in those values considered fundamental for European Citizenship, such as freedom, democracy, dialogue, and human dignity.

Pilot 1: Values in Greek Tragedies (past, present, future?)

Part 1 – Past of values

This pilot wants to study values of antiquity, as can be found in stories like ancient Greek tragedies. Greek tragedies, this unique cultural moment in history, situated the notion of tragic as an element of human nature: Using moral values and messages as a vehicle, these stories attempted to help audiences transcend the “here and now” of their own existence to the “elsewhere” of the mythicised story . The aim of this pilot is to study the values that are conveyed through tragedies, focusing on the elements that relate to the notions of citizen and citizenship as mentioned before. We will add metadata related to values to selected plays, and we will interlink these with the “index of philosophical theories” of various ancient Greek philosophers. The “index of philosophical theories” is part of a philosophy museum currently being developed by NCSR Demokritos, the “House of Classical Hellenic Ideas” in Athens.

Part 2 – Present and Future of values

In the second part of this pilot, we will examine how these values are re-visited in the present through each modern theatrical reproduction of the classical plays. We will analyse the new meaning that is created with each new adaptation of the text, through the interplay of various semiotic systems such as acting, music, voice, sets, movement, aesthetics, light, costumes etc, through which characters and text are brought to life.

Using tragedies, this part of the pilot will examine how values and messages from the past (i.e. those found in Greek tragedies) are perceived and revisited today: How does the director of a play today, choses to present values coming from antiquity to the modern audience? We will digitise the experiences and stories from modern creators (directors, actors, costume designers etc.) using iconic/significant theatrical reproductions as “case studies” (with the help of University of Athens). This digitized material will be used (employing semantic web technologies) to enhance archival material maintained by theatrical organisations. The users of the produced material will be scholars, theatre organisations, and museums. We will approach directors/actors, etc. with the help of Athens’ University, and Athens and Epidaurus Festival S.A.

In order to demonstrate how the results of the research can be used in museums, as part of an effort to help European citizens rethink their role, we will use the findings of the analysis to create an educational program for museum visitors. The program will be implemented in the “House of Classical Hellenic Ideas” museum and will be linked to the permanent exhibition.

The “House of Classical Hellenic Ideas” is a collaboration between NCSR Demokritos and the Ministry of Culture in Greece. It aims to create a model exhibition on classical Greek ideas and ancient Greek philosophy – one of the greatest cultural achievement of ancient Greeks and a worldwide cultural legacy. The project will utilise cutting-edge technologies such as interactive digital walls, augmented reality applications and applications that use artificial intelligence as part of the interaction with the visitor. The exhibition will target different types of visitors such as tourists and school students.

This pilot envisions, through the educational program, to prompt the visitors’ views on how these values are present in their lives/modern society and even how they imagine the evolution of these values in the future (in 50 or 100 years). The collection of these views can be the starting point for a large public debate on core European values. The users of the produced material will be the House of Classical Hellenic Ideas, whose curators will use pilot’s outcomes to enhance the museum’s exhibitions, but also scholars, researchers, other museums and educators.

Pilot 2: Values in Fairy-tales

Part 1 – Past of values

People use stories to convey information and communicate values and ideas. Stories transcend time and place; In various forms, be it myths and legends or folktales and fairy tales, stories are a big part of cultural heritage, mainly because they convey values and ideas. For the second Pilot we propose the digitization and preservation of fairy tales and the use of advanced processing techniques in combination with methodologies from the humanities, in order to reveal values and ideas present in these stories. Through ground-breaking digital curation techniques, stories and values/ideas will be traced across time and space creating a digital map of their evolution.

Part 2 – Present and Future of values

In this Pilot we will use the findings of the analysis in order to create an educational program for museum visitors concerning these values. The program will be implemented in the “Fairytale Museum” Cyprus. As in Pilot 1, through the educational program, we will trace the visitors’ views on how these values are present in their lives/modern society and even how they imagine the evolution of these values in the future (in 50 or 100 years).

The extracted knowledge will become available to researchers, museums (Fairytale Museum Cyprus) and other educational institutions that can use the material in order to create exhibits, educational programs and other applications.

Pilot 3: Values in 17th Century books of natural philosophy and utopian imagination.

This pilot focuses on 17th century literature on the cosmos and considers a series of works at the crossroads between utopian and scientific genre. They are mostly imaginary travel stories in which the scientific cum religious novelties were embedded in an imaginary narrative context. In the 17th century, science (or more accurately, natural philosophy) was a knowledge in full construction and transformation still impregnated with some of the passions of the Renaissance and with an organic and homogeneous view of knowledge. This is the century of the mathematization of nature, but also of mathematical magic, of curiosity and a taste of wonders, and “scientific” discussions also involved theological conceptions of nature and humanity, and a vast view of the universe.

At that time, science also becomes poetic and literary, including fiction and imagination. Galileo’s detailed descriptions of the Moon’s surface (Sidereus Nuncius, 1610) initiated new scenarios. Through the telescopic observations he made between 1609 and 1610 the Moon became “another Earth” (“Lunam scilicet esse quasi Tellurem alteram”, Sidereus Nuncius, OG III, p. 65). The similarity and identity between Earth and Moon, being biunivocal and symmetrical relationships, imply not only that the Moon can be inhabited like the Earth but even that the Earth is considered as a satellite. Galileo’s Moon brought a decisive change: the homogeneity of the cosmos, the conception of an Earth that is no longer ontologically diversified and the sighting of another Earth close to us leads to set the utopian kingdoms not only on unknown islands of our planet but also on other celestial bodies. Few years later, Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis (1624-7) enshrined the moral value of learning and the advancement of knowledge as a great utopian goal. Other thinkers, such as John Wilkins, are concerned about the theological status of hypothetical lunar inhabitants, and whether they are fallen or unfallen.

Such a shift in the view of the Cosmos brings with it a shift in values. It questions the centrality of man in the cosmos bringing forth new scenarios in socio-political and theological discussion and leads to a new consideration of the intrinsic value of nature. Since the publication of the Sidereus Nuncius a series of works embody the Earth-Moon analogy by creating stories deeply anchored to the new celestial discoveries and at the same time strongly projected towards the construction of a new image of man, nature and the world.

Part 1 – Past of values

This pilot will study 17th century texts, aiming to digitize how authors of that period perceived the transformation and reproduction of moral values and societies in the future. We will compare how values are transformed and how they reconstruct a new image of the self and of the world in early modern period.

Part 2 – Present and Future of values

In this pilot, we will use the findings of the analysis in order to create/enhance/utilize educational programs for museum visitors (schools, general public) or other events/occasions (talks, debates, museum nights, visiting the permanent exhibition) concerning these values. All the above can be linked to the Galileo Museum’s permanent exhibitions. After the events, we will trace the visitors’ views on how/if these values are present in modern society and even how they imagine the evolution of these values in the future. We would like to highlight the differences or similarities between the seventeenth-century values, which are inherent in the scientific instruments, and the values which are present in the popular image of science nowadays. The visitors’ views on the related values will be recorded and digitized through questionnaires and other monitoring processes.

The users of the produced material of pilot 3 will be: (1) the Museo Galileo whose curators/educators will be able to use the pilot’s outcomes to enhance the museum’s exhibitions/events/educational programs, but  also scholars, researchers, other museums and educators.