The Bloody Sunday Tribunal Video Simulation
Published as a chapter in James Elkins (ed.), Visual Practices across the University (Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2007), chapter 7, p.100.
6 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2015 Last revised: 8 Mar 2015
Date Written: January 17, 2007
An interactive video simulation was developed specifically for use by the Bloody Sunday Tribunal in order to aid the orientation of witnesses when they gave their evidence. The system consisted of thousands of photographs and computer-generated images of Derry, both present-day and as it was in 1972. The idea of bringing all of that information together into a virtual reality reconstruction, including new images where necessary, proved to be of great assistance to the lawyers and witnesses trying to make sense of the complex events which occurred decades previously. Continuous reference was made to the photographs and maps, as well as the virtual reality recreation of 1972 Derry, especially as some buildings had been demolished since 1972. Generally speaking, witnesses seemed to be quite comfortable with the virtual reality system, although it naturally took a few minutes for each witness to become familiar with this rather unusual means of representing the scenes. Witnesses quite often participated in the ‘control’ of the system, so that they could move right or left and ‘explore’ the terrain. For the lawyers involved in the Tribunal, an ability to analyse the visual evidence in detail was vital. It would not have been possible for a lawyer to participate in the Tribunal without studying maps, photographs, video-tapes and the virtual reality system in advance and being prepared to use those tools to clarify what witnesses were saying, and question the consistency of their evidence with the visual evidence where appropriate.
Keywords: Law, Tribunal, Virtual Reality, Evidence, Digital Evidence, Law and Technology, Courts, Tribunals, Visual Literacy, Information Technology, Derry, Northern Ireland, Ireland
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