Day 6: Data Mining

Today we played with several tools. I already posted the visualization of words that appear multiple times in an article by Anne Derbes. That was cool. Only, I don’t know how I got a PDF to work in it because they are not supposed to work. I don’t have any idea how I might do that again. I tried tonight; no go.

Tomorrow we dive back into data mining, but we talk more about visualizations, and what I think I heard was also a discussion of how traditional DH text mining can be translated into art historical methods and processes. Because we do sort of work with images. Texts are all nice and everything, but art historians tend to gravitate towards seeing stuff (I have remarked that Sheila and Sharon must get a kick out of what we ooh! and ahh! over; every now and then some visual manifestation appears and you’d think we were witnessing a new heavenly orb based on our reactions).

Tonight I did another ARTstor search (logging on through my school’s off-campus log-in account). I found a few more images of the Eleousa-inspired Italo-Byzantine panel paintings. Right now I’m dealing with bust-length, 13th century, Tuscan-produced versions. I have about 10 of them. Several of the ARTstor ones are black and white (whaaaa) and I may try to run a TinEye search to see if I can find other ones. I think one was from that photographic Frick collection that was in one of our readings.

But my questions tonight are:

1. How can you (or can you?) export ARTstor image metadata into a file? They have the Offline Image Viewer and a way to export the IMAGES into Powerpoint…but what about the data? I am salivating over the idea of being able to take a whole image group (like my bust-length Eleousa-inspired Madonna and Child image group) and get ALL THE INFO in an excel spreadsheet. Oh, how fab if you could do that….can you do that?).

2. How can I find better quality digital images of these black and white ones?

3. What questions do I want to ask of these images? Do I want to make a searchable database? What are we searching for? My initial thought is to start with the Eleousa-type images. The Eleousa type of Virgin and Child picture in Byzantium is like this, on the left below, known as the Virgin of Vladimir from 1130 or so  (and it is one of my favorites of all time):

(9-29)virgin(theotokos)andchildicon(vladimirvirgin)-m1323971654402  lot-5 (2)-1

And then the one to the right above, which is an Italian version of the Byzantine theme from around 1285-90.

In this case the compositions are “flipped,” and there are other iconographic differences as well.  But I’m not sure how DH inquiry is going to help here. I need to talk to more people about this – and think about it more.

4. I am still on the fence about mapping. In many cases the provenance of these images falls of the edge of the earth around 1920. Most do not have provenances (that I have been able to find) that reach all the way back to the thirteenth century. So mapping their location at creation might be a dead-end. But maybe searching by iconographic type? I mean, I have had to do a TON of work just finding all these suckers and then arranging them in a way that they are grouped and thus comparable. That’s adding to the field, is it not?

Still thinking. And looking forward to tomorrow.

Source: Day 6: Data Mining