CULTURE

High-tech anchor for salt and rust

Those who believe that technology is the greatest enemy of traditional culture will find themselves pleasantly surprised by the CD-ROM produced by the Nautical Museum of Thera. Here, technology functions as a wise keeper, an indisputable testimony to the past, a haven for a bygone era. A number of CD-ROMs have been produced in this country with culture as their theme, not so much due to Greece’s rich cultural heritage or consumer demand, as because it is an easy and opportunistic way of absorbing the European Union funds allocated for such projects. It is rare to find something that has been made with true regard, a respect for history and, above all, high aesthetic standards. This audio visual book by the Nautical Museum of Thera fully meets all these criteria. Maritime history The CD-ROM was completed a short while ago and is already available in shops. With it, people are not only able to view the museum’s exhibits – taken from the sea captains’ mansions of Oia – in digital form, but can also form a complete picture of the nautical history of the island and its people as it unfolds through the centuries, together with the individuals who left an indelible mark on the Greek merchant marine as well as the keepsakes and language of ordinary people who loved the sea and who built, repaired and manned the ships. The worshipers – or otherwise – of technology and the sea will find themselves as unable to tear themselves away from this CD-ROM as from a good book. It is a mosaic of the island’s maritime past, with figureheads, chests, parts of old boats, models of careening docks, boat models, watercolor paintings, photographs, books and documents and a glossary of the sea and docks. From the demands of the shipowners heard in the Greek Parliament to the videos guiding the user through the museum’s galleries with a voice-over by its president, Nikos Nomikos, the Nautical Museum of Thera’s CD-ROM captures a slice of salt and rust, images of seafaring, the dialect of the sea and the local language of Oia, set to music which was written exclusively for this release. The contributors to this project appear to have dedicated themselves to it with much love and inspiration. Responsibility for the production, design, function, footage and, in part, the soundtrack was shouldered by Constantinos Tseklenis. The texts on the island’s nautical history were edited by the architect Mary Kavagia, who was not only undaunted by the huge bibliography but worked with much patience and care. The general coordination of the production was undertaken by Loukas Nomikos, a member of a family very much associated with the nautical tradition of Santorini over the past centuries. Constantinos Tseklenis, the son of distinguished Greek designer Yiannis Tseklenis, originally took up photography as a hobby. He studied film direction both in Greece and abroad and worked in films, videos and music. Over the past few years he has been involved in direction for the new technological media such as CD-ROMs. The management and promotion of Greece’s cultural heritage is the area which interests him most. His previous works include the CD-ROM Makedonissa Gynaika (Macedonian Woman) and To Chreos stin Omorfia (The Duty to Beauty), also about Santorini and the mistreatment of its buildings, as well as the CD-ROM Istoria tou Ellinikou Oinou (History of Greek Wine). What is most important to me is the fact that there are so many interesting subjects in Greek culture and traditions which remain unexploited. Unfortunately, when we try to present our history using the new technologies, this is usually done without paying due attention to artistic presentation. On this particular CD-ROM, everything has been meticulously studied down to the last detail, from the fonts to the backdrops for the exhibits. If we bear in mind that these media are shaping the aesthetic tastes of the younger generation, then it is essential that emphasis is laid on this area, and we do not just slap it all together, the young director told Kathimerini. Easy orientation The Nautical Museum of Thera’s CD-ROM is highly user-friendly and suitable for all ages, as long as they have a basic knowledge of computers. Learning becomes a pleasure, while orientation is easy. Returning to the contents page can be done by a touch of a button to locate a topic of interest. Three of the things in store for people in this CD-ROM are a video recording of a storm, Kadio Kolymva’s book I Pano Meria tou Kosmou (The Top of the World), which can be read on screen, and an article by Constantinos Tseklenis – a tribute to one of the most celebrated shipwrights of Santorini. The museum in Oia The Nautical Museum of Thera in Oia, where the visitor will encounter the maritime tradition of the Aegean Sea, was founded in 1951 on a private initiative by a captain of the merchant navy, Adonis Dakoronias. At first, it was housed in the house of his grandfather, Minas Nomikos. The building was destroyed after the earthquake of 1956 and so, since 1990, the museum has been housed in property owned by Dina Birbili, who donated her captain’s mansion for this purpose. The cost of setting up the museum was undertaken by the brothers Nikos and Dimitrios Nomikos. In September 1981, the museum acquired legal status. Its first board of directors was made up of Antonis Dakoronias, Nikos Nomikos, Aristides Alafouzos, Nikos Psychas and the president of the community of Oia. The current president of the museum is Nikos Nomikos.