The Story of Laocoön was a 3D immersive exhibit of The Glasgow School of Art’s plaster cast of Laocoön, a Trojan priest from classical mythology, which was damaged in the fire of 2014 and presumed lost following the fire in 2018. The nine month project was a partnership between the School of Simulation and Visualisation (SimVis) and digital media studio ISOdesign, funded by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Informed by restoration work carried out on the cast following the 2014 fire, the project was inspired by the conservation processes and reports and the rich history of the piece within the School, as evidenced within the archive.
This material enabled SimVis and ISO to explore ideas around immersive exhibition experiences using digital technologies. Wearing VR headsets, visitors could walk through one of the Mackintosh painting studios, where a life-size rendition of Laocoön, created using detailed scans taken after the 2014 fire, could be seen against both historical and contemporary back-drops, using material drawn from the archive.
The interactive experience featured films, images and audio narrative to complement the central figure, detailing the cast’s history and the conservation process.
The Laocoön VR experience was an example of how modern technology can go hand-in-hand with archive material to communicate and animate information, documentation and technical data to engage visitors in exciting new and immersive ways.