Onward to Digital Pedagogy

I have been looking forward to Digital Pedagogy day, though I, like many in the room, have been making note nearly every single day of the things we learned for our research projects that might also work in the classroom. I have *loved* the mutterings after we learned a tool of: “I could so use that in my class!” I love the level of teaching commitment that this group exhibits, as well as their commitment to the field more generally.

Today was such a day. At my table Sylvia and I were nearly quivering (well, that could have been all the chocolate we were eating) with excitement over the idea of using the wikipedia entry examination with students. We thought about how we could use it as a lesson on how wikipedia works, which might be a better way to teach them about why it’s not THE ONLY source they should use when doing research. I had never looked at the history of edits page. S and I were thinking we could have groups of students look at how an entry is built. I think someone today talked about how students think items that they read “came from God” fully formed. I think it would be good on so many levels to teach the students about how that works. And heavens know they have not learned the concept of a DRAFT. They are more like “one and done.”  After talking about the edits and comparing elements in different versions, it might be cool to have them do additional research and see if then there is something that could be added to their item/page on wikipedia.

I was also glad that we had a few minutes to talk about the smARThistory site. I shiver (NOT with excitement) when people say “they” (as in the video site) are missing this or that. It is a site that has been built by a community. If you don’t like it, freaking fix it. It’s not quite crowd-sourcing, because Drs. Zucker and Harris want to be sure that they are agreeing to experts in the field who are exporting content to the site (and it is heavily edited). But still: if you a lacuna, fill it. I freaking flew to the Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, MI (hated every other part of the conference) so that I could record content for the site. Two works. That was a lot of energy expended by me for two videos, but I am committed to that site and wanted to be sure that works I feel are important to the canon were represented. I hope others will do the same.

We’ll see what Thursday has in store. I will echo what one member of our group said: I can’t believe we are near the end. While S and S might be mightily ready to see this Art Historical Ship of Fools depart, I’ll be mighty sad to say goodbye to them and the rest.


Source: Onward to Digital Pedagogy

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):

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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

Going into the Mines…of Data

Reading about data mining and thought about the work of one person tracking the history of particular words or phrases over time. This was by tracking words and by putting in A HUMONGOUS bunch of texts into a database.

Could the same be done with images? But how would the images actually be “read”? I guess you would have to be careful with your metadata – really descriptive perhaps? So, for this image:


I would have to very carefully (and not sure how to do it) put in words about the fact that the Virgin holds Christ’s left foot with her right hand – and note that

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in this work she touches the child’s right foot with her left hand (but in a different arrangement altogether).

Would this be what it would take to ‘read’ the frequency of poses in paintings like the history of particular features (words or phrases) in a specific period’s poetry?

This is a question about quantitative data. I think in general most art historians (at least this one) does very little thinking about quantitative anything. But maybe it could be very helpful for this project? I hope to learn more about this tomorrow and work to apply it.

Source: Going into the Mines…of Data

Blogging Homework – Day 4

Can it REALLY be only Day 4? Sheila Brennan and Sharon Leon have done a remarkably amazingly fantastic job of putting together this seminar. I really CAN NOT fathom that it has been only four days; I have learned so much.

Which is also why there is no way I’m going to be reading How to Lie with Maps, a book about mapping as a resource and research platform written by Mark Monmonier (second edition even!). I want to. Oh, do I want to! But I reckon I have about an hour’s worth of battery life left in this brain and I want to get some thoughts down and answer the questions for today.

The first issue we were asked to think and blog about tonight is this: “Consider how to incorporate different types of resources into your digital project for analysis.”

First off, I need images. I learned how to use TinEye to find images (though it has yet to work for me; I have such weirdo images). I have been able to find several through searches on museum databases and through other web searching tools I’ve learned this “week” (as in four days). So, my site will need images.

I had originally thought I might need some kind of mapping. I still might. I will know more after tomorrow’s discussion (and when I  eventually read  How to Lie with Maps).  I had originally thought to “plot” the images in Tuscany on a map. But the reading I *did* do tonight, by Richard Wright “What is Spatial Mapping” makes me wonder. I took two things from this reading that makes me stop and think:

1. Mapping is about moving through space. I am dealing with paintings and in many cases the provenance is etchy-sketchy (yes that is an industry term). If I am not even sure where the images came from, and mapping is about spaces, then maybe this is not the best tool for my project.

2. Wright ends his piece by saying : “Visualization and spatial history are not about producing illustrations or maps to communicate things that you have discovered by other means. It is a means of doing research; it generates questions that might otherwise go unasked.” Do I really need a map to see the Byzantine influence in the panel paintings produced by Italian artists in the thirteenth century? Does a mapping tool communicate that influence and no other means can? Clearly that is not the case, since I have already identified some iconographic markers that demonstrate influence. So…I’m now rethinking the mapping issue. Hopefully tomorrow will shed light on what such a tool can – and can’t or should not – do.

And this leads me to something I was thinking about earlier today when I was coming back on the bus: you should not let the tools – as totally freaking cool as they  are – guide the research. You still need to ask the disciplinary questions and then see if there are the tools that will answer them. So, is mapping a useful tool? I still think it might be. But just because I WANT to use a mapping tool (and I will learn how to do it tomorrow) does not mean that it is necessarily the best tool for my project. I think the use of the newest shiny toy just to use it might be at the core of why many scholars are skeptical or outright hostile to the idea of digital humanities research and publication. And the answer of “but it is up on the web and therefore digital and for the public” is not a good enough answer. It has to be solid scholarship – that is enhanced or actually created by the digital tools. Thus, I need to figure out what my project is really about and find the best tools to help it develop.We were also asked to think about our home institutions and how much support or lack thereof we will find there. I am REALLY lucky. I have a lot of support at my home institution in the form of tech people. I am very lucky in that I have great librarians with whom to partner, as well as Instructional Technologists (yes, I’m talking to you Steve Kerby!), as well as others who are very digitally inclined (like the Social Media Ninja, and he knows who he is). Yet, I do believe I might be The Only faculty member who will be attempting digital research. I think some are embracing digital tools for teaching (and one thing I LOVE LOVE about our group is that when we learn a tool, you hear a ripple around the room of, “oh, I could so use that in class!” The energy is really great). But I think I will be a Lone Wolf back at McDaniel when it comes to the research angle. But that is OK. I predict this group will stick together digitally for some time forward. And we have our awesome website and Twitter hashtag: #doingdah14. Could there be more money? Sure. Could it be helpful if there were more staff? Yeah. But I’ve got good people and enthusiasm. And that’s carried me through on other projects before this one. Bring it on Day 5!!!

Source: Blogging Homework – Day 4

Possible Digital Repositories

Today’s homework assignment includes a blog post (this one!) that asks us to consider possible places where we can find good images for our DH projects. For my Italo-Byzantine panel painting project (which keeps narrowing as I learn about how much you must do), I will have to rely on a 1948 publication by Edward B. Garrison. When I ordered that book from Inter-library loan it was spindly book with slick pages that stuck together and a binding that was coming apart. It made me sad. What made me sadder was all the images that were reproduced were in BLACK AND WHITE.

So, I need to find many of them, and some are in private collections (the bane of the art historian, at least this one) and others are in museums that do not have anything digitized. So…..

I am not sure where I am going to find my images. I have found some from the Met. Some from the National Gallery in DC. There are others in some museums in Germany, Italy (though many of those may not have searchable databases). I will be limiting my compendium of images to Italo-Byzantine panel paintings of the Virgin and Child (starting with those that are bust-length) that were painted in Tuscany in the 13th century.

Tomorrow we’ll see about different web applications for the storage of images. I love Zotero that we learned about today, but am thinking it might not be the best place so actually stage the mapping project. But it will help keep track of images, their metadata as well as sources (I found out that you can load PDF articles there that keep the bibliographic info that you can then **export** into perfectly Chicago-style format. HUZZAH!!!)

I am eager for tomorrow (but before then, I have to read a book; only 74 pages, but still. It has a spine; it’s a book).

Source: Possible Digital Repositories

Painting Seized this past June

This painting was seized as it is believed to have been stolen from a Swiss safe deposit box:

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Usually the images that I work on hardly make the news like this!

But it has been in the news: here is a link to a blog post about it, as well as here a news article about it. There is a lot here to research and I am very thankful to  Dr. Rebecca Corrie for sending it on to me.

If you look at this painting that was seized (on the right) and the one that inspired this project (on the left), there are definite similarities and both are attributed in to the circle or the influence of Cimabue.

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Very excited to have a new image that is so “hot” in the news to examine further. And now I have at least two images for my project (there are many others actually but this is the one that is the most similar in composition).