Friday, February 10, 2012
Recently, DECIPHER partners the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), and the Open University have been discussing the concept of ‘influence’ as represented in art history. We had started exploring what words and phrases art specialists use to denote the nature of influential relationships and interactions between artists, artworks, and a social or historical context. I looked at four art history and appreciation textbooks to establish some concrete examples of references to ‘influence’. These texts gave some sense of the type of language used when addressing entry-level art history students (rather than, say, specialist and specific third-level texts).
The four books are aimed at Irish secondary school students who are following a two year course in preparation for their final state exams (usually from age fifteen to eighteen): The books are: Sight Insight Excite, Appreciation & History of Art, Less Stress More Success: Art History Revision for Leaving Cert, and Art History and Appreciation. Two of the books I had used in school myself, so I had a few flashbacks of nostalgia going through their pages. To give the work some manageable parameters, I limited the scope of my search to (mostly) the chapters concerning European painting and sculpture from the 1400s to the 1900s.
Unsurprisingly, the many variations of the word ‘influence’ cropped up the most in this search (142 references):
He was influenced by ...
This influential group ...
The influence of these masters ...
Under the influence of ...
After that, there were 41 references to a rejection of influence, or simply a lack of influence:
It was a reaction to Realism and Impressionism...
Breaking free of the Romantic influence ...
In no way influenced by ...
Other types of verbs that indicated some type of influence were: changed (32 references); learned (25 references); inspired (19 references); followed (18 references); admired (17 references); impressed (13 references); copied (13 references); based on (9 references); encouraged (7 references); absorbed (6 references); foreshadowed (5 references); associated (5 references); impacted (3 references); interested (3 references); appreciated (3 references).
The various authors use these verbs like a sliding scale to indicate the nature and strength of the ‘influence’ operating between artists, artworks, history and society.One of my colleagues who is more familiar with specialised texts for third-level, said she was surprised to see that there mention of ‘informed by’, which she thought was over-used and quite neutral. So, later in the project we may look at additional ways of indicating ‘influence’ which are common in texts aimed at particular reader cohorts other than second-level students.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
The first part of the day featured a number of interesting presentations as to how CIDOC CRM is being used and extended in disciplines such as the humanities and archaeology. The DECIPHER presentation looked at how curatorial narratives can be modelled and how this relates to CIDOC CRM.
Attending the CIDOC CRM SIG also provided a good opportunity to learn more about the work being carried out in harmonizing CIDOC CRM with FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records).
The DECIPHER paper at DERIVE (http://oro.open.ac.uk/30058) presented the curate ontology (http://decipher.open.ac.uk/curate) and how it can be used to describe findings from the analysis of curatorial practice.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
The Art Teachers Association of Ireland Conference 2011 provided a great opportunity to talk directly to second level art teachers about DECIPHER’s development. The conference took place in Dublin in early October. It was good to make contacts within the secondary school art sector, and begin to develop a cohort of education professionals and their students who could take part in later trials of DECIPHER.
After talking about DECIPHER, I was lucky enough to sit in on Lynn McGrane’s presentation about her work as Education Officer for Dublin Contemporary 2011, Ireland’s international art exhibition, which ran throughout September and October. Some of the points in Lynn’s presentation resonated with DECIPHER’s research into museum practice and curatorial processes, especially in the area of communicating and mediating contemporary art in a learning context.
Contemporary artworks, by their nature, do not benefit from hindsight or several years of past scholarly research. Most contemporary artists have a direct input into how their artworks are presented, and many refrain from using text panels in the gallery space which convey anything more than the basic “tombstone” information about each artwork. Of course, living artists can still be consulted about their artwork and practice; whereas information related to artworks and artists from centuries ago can be obscured by the mists of time. Despite this, information to do with era, location, types of relationships and wider contexts are often more firmly asserted when artworks were made in the deeper past.
Information about contemporary art can be quite subjective or speculative. The contemporary use of conceptual practices and non-traditional media also presents a challenge, particularly to the classification of some newer artworks when they are acquired by collections.
This difference, between the nature of the data available about contemporary art and more historically-based artworks, has become an interesting point of consideration for DECIPHER.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
The Decipher team outlined the work to date and gave a demonstration of Decipher's Storyspace software prototype. The advisers gave enthusiastic and valuable feedback on our early plans. In particular they offered some constructive criticism of our "branding" which has influenced our planning for the formative evaluation stage of the project which is due to begin in mid-2012.
Monday, July 4, 2011
We were given access to the diverse and rich Europeana collections containing over 18 million records, Europeana Search API (incl. a test key and technical documentation) and Europeana Linked Open Data Pilot datasets which currently comprise about 3 million Europeana records available under a CC license. We were then encouraged to try out our ideas for creative reuse of the Europeana content and build an application showcasing the social and business value of open cultural data.
The Decipher team's "Casual Curator" based on ideas and technology from Decipher was judged the best "social inclusion" prototype and was invited to the Digital Agenda Assembly on 17th of June in Brussels where EU Commissioner Ms. Neelie Kroes gave the award during a special ceremony. The prototype uses Open Data from Freebase to focus searches on specific cultural domains and use the results to semantically support further searches in the Europeana dataset. The final result can be visualised on an Android tablet.