Women Architects and World Fairs

Category: ARTH 851 Spring 2016 (Page 2 of 2)

Posts connected to participation in ARTH 851 at UNC at Chapel Hill in the spring of 2016. #arth851spring2016

Exploring Thinglink with Archival Materials

Source: Exploring Thinglink with Archival Materials

I’ve had some fun exploring Thinglink.com this week. To explore the capabilities of this tool, I decided to use some recently scanned materials from North Carolina artist Connie Bostic’s collection of clippings from earlier in her art career. The image below, and the materials included in my annotations, are all related to the hue and cry that took place in the Asheville, NC community over the supposed indecency of the paintings and their exhibition in a school, as well as the responding uproar over art censorship that took place in the wake of the school headmaster’s covering up and removal of the paintings.

The paintings, part of Bostic’s “Mark of the Goddess” series, were to be exhibited in the Walker Arts Center of the Asheville School from Aug. 8-Sept. 10, 1990. Instead, the headmaster John Tyrer called for them to be removed almost immediately, saying “Female genitalia have no place on the walls of a school building.” It’s probably relevant to note here that the works are abstract rather than figural. The works are, in Bostic’s words, “archetypal female symbols that depict the regenerative and nurturing power of women”; the exhibition combined the oil-on-paper paintings with quotations about women from history’s “great men”, such as “A woman takes off her claim to respect along with her garments” (Herodotus) and “Silence gives the proper grace to woman” (Sophocles). The fact that Bostic’s work, which is intended to evoke the concern she feels about the loss of women’s cultural heritage within history, was itself covered over and symbolically silenced (at least for the hot minute before folks caught wind of the censorship and started protesting, which led to even greater exposure for the exhibition) is quite the irony.

In my annotations below, I’ve selected some quotations from news articles surrounding the event, as well as provided images of those articles and editorials that argue on both sides of the issue (for a magnificent example of the pro-censorship, anti-“gender feminist” side, see #6 below, “Feminist Junk Masquerades as Art”) . There are also images of exhibition cards and fliers, as well as a newspaper image of Bostic herself, in front of one of her works. For the most part, I have preserved Bostic’s arrangement of clippings in the order of my tags. On the right side of the image (where the white sheet veils the artworks on the wall), I have included images of a selection of the original “Mark of the Goddess” paintings. I will admit to indulging in a sort of subversive delight by digitally “unveiling” these censored images, right on top of a visual symbol of their censorship.

It’s hard to overstate how viscerally this has demonstrated to me the importance of examining an item in context, and an artist’s artwork in the context of her archives. The photograph below is not only a record of one exhibition opening among many, it is a relic of a certain cultural moment for women artists in the South. Furthermore, while physically interacting with the materials certainly gives a rich sense of the various discourses surrounding this specific event, being able to incorporate quotations and images (as well as other media, potentially) into my annotations of this photo creates a sort of narrative shorthand, another way of paging through a scrapbook.

And finally, if any of you are interested and would like to annotate the image through Thinglink, please feel free!


I have not provided individual citation information for these images and scans–all of these items are from Bostic’s studio materials.
One limitation of Thinglink seems to be that there is not a zoom function for the images that are included within tags. The images within the tags are purposefully lo-res, but you should be able to zoom within your browser and still read from the full newspaper articles. Future iterations of annotations for this specific images could include links to the digital versions of these newspaper articles in online databases.
Thinglink requires you to upgrade to the “Pro” version in order to post images within tags. I don’t plan to upgrade after my free 14-day trial period is over, so most of the images in the tags below will not be visible after Friday, Feb. 26.

DAH Post #4: A Potpourri – Omeka and Scalar, Fair Use and Transformation

Source: DAH Post #4: A Potpourri – Omeka and Scalar, Fair Use and Transformation

Last week, we read Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report from the College Art Association and the CAA’s 2015 Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in the Visual Arts. We also explored Omeka and Scalar, two web publishing platforms designed for presenting and sharing collections and digital scholarship. I’m going to discuss my explorations with Omeka and Scalar and the relative advantages and disadvantages I found in both. I’m also going to touch on fair use questions related to the transformation of artistic works, a point discussed within the copyright texts we read that I find particularly interesting and complex. So this post might be a little more disjointed than most.

Omeka is a “free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions.”[1] Omeka is designed for digital collections and is directed towards academic use. Ease of use for non-IT professionals is its major advantage. As I thought about how I might use Omeka, I searched for a way to connect an Omeka site to a WordPress site. For for my own purposes, it makes sense to me to try to connect my scholarly projects to my main website, for ease and simplicity of access (as well as a desire to be somewhat minimalist and strategic about my online presence). In this search I’ve found two different forum threads pointing towards a number of different ways to integrate at least a few of the features of the platforms. In this Google User Group thread, user Kristopher Kelly suggests a kind of workaround that wouldn’t integrate the sites so much as give the appearance to users that the sites are one. Kelly writes, “The easiest way would be to just install both WordPress and Omeka side by side and have them served from different VirtualHosts.  Then you would make sure your WordPress theme is styled the same as your Omeka theme so that they look like they are a single site.  Then just add a link to the Omeka theme’s navigation that points at your WordPress install and vice versa.  This isn’t real integration but it gives that illusion to the people accessing your site.  It might be a bit annoying to manage though if you later on decide to change the way your Omeka site looks.”[2]

On a rather dated Omeka forum, a number of users suggest a single sign-on plugin for Omeka and WordPress (something I was wishing for myself). Though one commenter (our friend Kris Kelly again!) notes “WordPress has an OpenID plugin, so if someone were to write an OpenID plugin for Omeka, presumably that would take care of authentication for both.”[3]

I did find a different plugin for displaying an Omeka feed on WordPress, but it was last updated 3 years about and has less that 10 active users, which doesn’t particularly compel me to try it out at this point.[4]

The best answer I’ve found in this arena comes from Omeka user ebellempire in this forum on featuring Omeka exhibits in WordPress. ebellempire says:

I’ve been toying around with different ways to integrate WordPress and Omeka for our site athttp://www.ohiocivilwar150.org/ and just thought I would share one handy approach for doing so. Aside from creating matching themes for each platform, this seems like it might be a next step for some projects.

In WordPress, you need two plugins (or possibly 3 – see below):

Featured Content Showcase

Page Links To

Featured Content Showcase (FCS) adds a slideshow to your WordPress theme that you can use to easily feature posts using the WP post thumbnail feature (version 2.9+). Page Links To (PLT) adds the ability to override the URL of a post or page so that it redirects somewhere else (e.g. to an Omeka Exhibit).

Just create a “dummy” post with a thumbnail image, a title and brief description, mark it featured according to the FCS instructions and redirect the post to your exhibit using the PLT instructions. Pretty easy.

If you don’t want the dummy posts to appear in your main blog feed or other areas of your site, you can use the Category Visibility plugin (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/category-visibility-ipeat/).[5]

If I come across the time to give this a go this semester, I’ll post here about my findings and results.

Scalar is “a free, open source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online. Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required.”[6] In Scalar, you can create paths whereby people travel through your content, utilizing the ways in which people already interact with web texts to predetermine connections and relationships. In class, we explored one of Scalar’s functions that seems particular suited to the type of e-book/web scholarship that Scalar is intended to present. Despite the author’s control over determining the navigational paths for users, Scalar also has a function that allows users to determine their own path based on built-in visualizations of a website’s structure. Though I’m not quite certain to what extent I’ll use Scalar in the near future, it seems a valuable tool for presenting online scholarship [relatively] easily and creatively.

Jumping to a different topic entirely: In Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report, the authors discuss a handful of cases on whether appropriative art has infringed copyright, noting that judicial opinion has become more lenient in the application of fair use in visual arts cases and that artists who could provide a convincing narrative for their appropriation typically had more control over the outcomes of their cases. “Typically”, though not always, as the Prince v. Cariou decision demonstrates, with its language specifying, “What is critical is how the work in question appears to the reasonable observer, not simply what an artist might say about a particular piece or body of work.”[7] The authors conclude by asserting that the overall sparseness of legal precedent leads to an “exaggerated sense of risk” about the uncertainties in determining fair use for appropriative art–a sense of risk that might be alleviated by developing best practices in among those community members.[8]

To that end, the CAA has a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in the Visual Arts. It’s section on “Making Art” describes and validates the longtime practices of artists’ referencing and incorporation of other artists’ work. It asserts the principle that “Artists may invoke fair use to incorporate copyrighted material into new artworks in any medium” while noting that artists should: (1) avoid uses of existing copyrighted material that do not “generate new artistic meaning” (2) justify their artistic objective (3) avoid “suggesting that copyrighted elements are original to them” and (4) cite the source unless they have an articulable reason for not doing so.[9]

One case that may help to demonstrate (and perhaps complicate, to some extent) this set of best practices involves the Yale MFA graduate Zac Arctander’s appropriation of a feminist work by Arabelle Sicardi and Tayler Smith, featuring transgender actress and model Hari Nef. About a year ago, Sicardi and Smith found their 2014 work Cheeks in The New Yorker credited to Arctander. Though Arctander’s use and transformation of the image legally falls under fair use, his failure to credit Sicardi and Smith certainly contravenes the CAA’s “best practices” and, in so doing, serves to reinscribe rather than undermine the traditional veiling of work created by women and queer artists in preference to that of established white male artists. As Sicardi commented, “we’re going to be written out of the authorship in Arctander’s Yale MFA gallery exhibition and accompanying New Yorker piece—like many women before us.”[10]


“About.” Accessed February 7, 2016. http://omeka.org/about/
Accessed February 7, 2016. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/omeka-dev/OWrFTXGChm0
Accessed February 7, 2016. http://omeka.org/forums/topic/wordpress-plug-in
Accessed February 7, 2016. https://wordpress.org/plugins/display-omeka-metadata/
Accessed February 7, 2016. http://omeka.org/forums/topic/featuring-omeka-exhibits-in-wordpress
“About Scalar.” Accessed February 7, 2016. http://scalar.usc.edu/features/built-in-visualizations/
Patricia Aufderheide, et al. Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report (College Art Association, 2014), 24. Accessed February 7, 2016.  http://www.collegeart.org/pdf/FairUseIssuesReport.pdf
Ibid., 26.
“Making Art.” In Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in the Visual Arts (College Art Association, 2015). Accessed February 7, 2016. http://www.collegeart.org/fair-use/best-practices
Sarah Cascone, “Imitating Richard Prince: Yale Graduate Zac Arctander Appropriates Feminist Photography,” Artnet News, June 25, 2015. Accessed February 7, 2015. https://news.artnet.com/art-world/zak-arctander-appropriates-photo-311464

DAH Post #3: Humanities after Deconstruction

Source: DAH Post #3: Humanities after Deconstruction

With his “Real Faces of White Australia” project, Tim Sherratt proffers an alternative method for accessing the National Archives of Australia’s records on people classified as “non-white”, living in Australia in the 20th century. At the same time, the interface he built, by foregrounding for the user the faces within the photographs of a series of records within the archive, humanizes each individual represented. Sherratt’s interface serves as a radical critique of the National Archives’ own interface, which represents those individuals in its online system by the travel certificates issued to them by the government. Rather than foreground the metadata attached to a government document (an abstraction from an abstraction of a once-living person), Sherratt makes the human face the point of access. The individual photographs realize for the user the persons represented in the records, but they also serve as signposts to the system that dehumanized them both symbolically through marking over and writing on their photographed faces and in reality through racist policies. Through his act of reorganization (and redesign), Sherratt amplifies the possibility for radically different readings of this history, while also presenting a model for other projects that might similarly intervene in the traditional power structures implicit in a more standard digital interface of a government archive.

Screenshot from invisibleaustralians.org/faces
Screenshot from sample search record at the National Archives of Australia website

In “It’s All About the Stuff: Collections, Interfaces, Power, and People,” Sherratt describes other projects that similarly open up possibilities for alternative narrative constructions of history (Unknown No Longer, Remember Me) These projects use digital media as a means of wresting interpretive authority from the archival institution–authority that is typically concealed or otherwise implicitly denied by the institution, as Derrida famously suggested in Archive Fever.[1] Projects like Sherratt’s are entries within a new landscape of scholarship, hewn out of deconstruction and digital media. In this landscape, interpretive contexts are endlessly reconfigurable (potentially spawning a new narrative with each new interaction), with both archivist and user/researcher exchanging roles, maintaining transparency about their respective positions, and working towards multiplying interpretations, rather than consolidating.

With this in mind, I attended last week’s Digital Salon on “Speculative Digital Humanities” in Sloane Art Library with Stewart Varner, Digital Scholarship Librarian at Davis Library, and Whitney Trettien, Asst. Professor in English and Comp. Lit. at UNC. Varner raised the question,”What can digital humanities be?” (a welcome respite from the usual, existentially freighted “what is digital humanities?”). In a kind of answer to this question, Trettien presented and summarized some of her projects, examples of ways to reconfigure scholarship and our ideas about scholarship in a digital context. In my mind, the examples she presented were a “digital” rather than “digitized” humanities, to use Drucker’s dichotomy. Trettien is, in her words, “disbinding from the codex”: working towards a form of presentation of scholarship that is native to the digital realm by virtue of using new facets for interfacing with a text/object that web design makes available. Some examples:

In “Cut/Copy/Paste: Composing Devotion at Little Gidding,” an in-progress work, Trettien pairs the Little Gidding Harmonies (a 17th century volume “mashing up” the four Gospels of the bible into one Narrative) with collection of text images, her own research commentary (though in a nontraditional form), and tools for examination of and interaction with the text–mirroring the text’s own proto-multimedia nature.
Thresholds, an online journal geared towards a processual understanding of scholarship, presenting informal, unfinished, or “unbounded” academic work together with scraps/notes providing evidence of and information about each author’s process in working on and thinking about the scholarship presented, as well as readers’ annotations. The project literalizes reading as an act of both navigation and re-creation.
Paperphone: Vocal Effects in Scholarly Presentations, which destabilizes the positions of academic publication and presentation–while making explicit the typically concealed role of performance in academia–through an interactive audio application that scholars can use to play with voice effects in their own performances of their scholarship.

As with Sherratt’s “Real Faces of White Australia” project, these examples illustrate that, to quote Trettien again, “restructuring the interface is a potentially activist enterprise.” These projects, with their destabilization of the role of author, their explicit potential for the multiplication of possible interpretations of the work presented, and their intervention in traditional power structures both inside and outside of their own specific communities, could appear to be more akin to web-based artworks than traditional scholarship. Though it is likely that that undermining of art as “art” and scholarship as “scholarship” is something that the creators would welcome, and which would be dependent on the user.


[1] Jacques Derrida, “Note”, in Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), vii-6.

DAH Post #2: The “real” and the “ideal” in planning digitization

Source: DAH Post #2: The “real” and the “ideal” in planning digitization

In response to Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig’s Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web as well as the Getty’s Introduction to Imaging, in class on Wednesday Elizabeth asked what I thought was a pretty pertinent question about typical workflows for digitization projects. The question, as well as JJ’s answer made me reflect on a few factors in my own planning process in researching, envisioning, communicating, and applying for for grant-funding for a digitization initiative in my last institution, the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC). The requested grant funds were included as part of a funding request for a larger, 3-year expansion project–to include funds for physical expansion and renovation, collections care, and educational internships–currently underway.

Before I discuss that process, it might be useful to point out areas in both texts that I found particularly resonant, and that speak to the navigation that staff members must face between what would be “ideal” for any given institution, and what that institution can realistically manage. Among other considerations in project planning, Introduction to Imaging urges tying the decision of whether to begin a digitization project to the mission and resources of the specific institution, with special focus on how the collection is accessed by users and deployed by the institution and how those collection uses might change after digitization.[1] In their section “Who Does the Digitizing? Should I Do it Myself?”, Cohen and Rosenzweig explore the pros and cons of outsourcing digitization or doing it in-house.[2] Such a decision necessarily depends on timeframe and scale of the project, quality of surrogates required, and resources allocated.

Screen shot of blackmountaincollege.org, “Selections from our permanent collection”

The digitization project at BMCM+AC was conceived as an extension of the museum’s current online gallery of selections from the permanent collection, which is added to on an ad-hoc basis as works are rotated out of storage for exhibitions and photographed. The project was to take place after the launch and ongoing buildout of the museum’s new website, which was designed with an future “online archive” section in mind. The budgeted funding for the digitization component of this project as well as for the website represented a small fraction of the total received grant funds for the expansion project. Therefore, it was anticipated that the digitization initiative would necessarily take place in phases as additional funding became available. The end goal of the project is a searchable interface accessed via the BMCM+AC website for users to explore the permanent collection (which includes ephemera, prints, and 3D materials as well as paintings, drawings, and photographs), as well as the institution of a more sophisticated collection catalogue that includes archive-quality digital surrogates.

In the research phase of grant-writing, I found a number of models and tutorials for the kind of end product and work process applicable to the project. Consultation with colleagues in the process of brainstorming about the website redesign and user interface for digitized surrogates added to the list. Here are a few:

Connecting to Collections webinar series – “Caring for Digital Materials: Preventing a Digital Dark Age”. I can’t really overstate how incredibly useful Connecting to Collections is–their webinars (and there are many of them) run the gamut of Things You Need To Know in the GLAM world. This series of webinars on caring for digital materials was profoundly helpful as I was considering possible practical applications of a more systematic digitization effort within BMCM+AC.
Omeka – I first learned about Omeka, an open source web-publishing platform tailored to display of GLAM collections and exhibitions, in the above series.
Collective Access – Another open source collections management and publishing software. What it makes possible: An institution’s front end collections interface of Collective Access can be accessible through web portal (and now, I think, directly through the owner’s WordPress website via plugin, but I haven’t yet tried that), while the back end can be run as the institution’s primary collections management software. Omeka can perform similarly, but I believe Collective Access has more appropriate architecture for the back end.
The New Museum Digital Archive – Built using Collective Access, something like this archive was, for me, the ultimate aspiration for the end phase of BMCM+AC’s digitization efforts. Obviously, an institution like the New Museum has far more resources to enact a project like this, but I found it useful to have it in my head while considering the first phases of the project.
Jack Tworkov Catalogue Raisonné (you may have to register with an email address to view the raisonné) – Shown to me by BMCM+AC’s webmaster, this interface represents something similar to a more easily realizable user interface for the museum’s online archive in the near-term.

Screen Shot of jacktworkov.com Catalogue Raisonné

In envisioning how the workflows required might realistically take place in an institution with a small staff, I was inspired by a talk at the 2014 Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) on incorporating volunteers into long-term museum projects. The presenters, staff members at a mid-sized museum, discussed volunteer recruitment, orientation, and management for their institution’s multi-year digitization and cataloguing effort. They stressed (1) targeting recruitment to a limited number of volunteers with specific skills, (2) making sure volunteers could commit to a specific amount of time per day, week, or month over a longer period of time, and (3) strategically planning training sessions and volunteer meetings, as well as appointing volunteer “leaders” to minimize drains on staff time and maximize efficiency in staff oversight responsibilities. My responsibilities for the BMCM+AC included intense volunteer recruitment and coordination efforts for the museum’s two biggest events of the year. In addition to a large number of one-time volunteers, the museum also has a small cohort of dedicated “repeat” volunteers–usually retired professionals and area artists/arts enthusiasts–as well as interested student volunteers and student interns from the nearby UNC Asheville. With careful planning and the framework above allowing for a judicious use of volunteer labor it began to seem just possible that the museum, with the addition to staff of two new grant-funded interns, could begin the laborious work of digitizing and cataloguing its collection with a uniform standard, with the end goal of providing digital access to items in its collection not currently on exhibition.

I left the museum in July, 2015 for grad school at Chapel Hill. In the time between the receipt of the grant and my departure, the museum renovated and reopened its original exhibition space, renovated its new collections storage space and moved its collections, launched its new internship program, and hired an executive director. The museum has since launched its updated website, redesigned in-house by the museum’s webmaster. It will open its second physical space this spring. The first phase of the digitization project will commence soon after.

I think that the selection of planning process elements above, though incomplete, demonstrates something about digitization plans and workflows in small institutions with limited staff and resources that JJ alluded to in her answer to Elizabeth’s question: namely, the often messy navigation between the “ideal” (as represented by Digital History and Introduction to Imaging and the “real”. While it is important to develop a clear plan for digitization that takes into account the needs and input of stakeholders, considers funding requirements and staff needs, and reflects the institution’s mission and history, it is also important, especially in a small institution, to stay fleet, flexible, and creative in approaches to issues that may arise in planning, workflow, seeking funding, and user access. And perhaps most important: to enjoy the problem-solving process.


[1] Howard Besser, “Why Digitize,” Getty Research Institute: Introduction to Imaging, Revised Edition, accessed January 24, 2016, http://www.getty.edu/research/publications/electronic_publications/introimages/why.html.

[2] Daniel J. Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig, “Who Does the Digitizing? Should You Do It Yourself?” Digital History: A Guide to Gathering, Preserving, and Presenting the Past on the Web, accessed January 24, 2016, http://chnm.gmu.edu/digitalhistory/digitizing/7.php.

DAH Post #1 – Ella Doulkaridou’s “Reframing Art History”

Source: DAH Post #1 – Ella Doulkaridou’s “Reframing Art History”

Couched within the series of articles in The International Journal of Digital Art History that attempt to position Digital Art History, not just disciplinarily but also ontologically, Elli Doulkaridou’s “Reframing Art History” calls attention to what is not new about Digital Art History—namely, that the objects of art history have always been conditioned and mediated not merely by the historians themselves, but by the tools historians use to frame and study them. Doulakaridou seeks to determine what happens to the practical facets underlying art historical practice in the digital sphere, and in doing so, bridge “analog and digital art history.”[1]

Doulkaridou, a French scholar of illuminated manuscripts, begins by identifying the framing device as a common denominator in two strands of her research, one “analog” (early modern decorative systems) and one digital (the use of the image as document by art historians), defining the framing device as “an instrument of cognitive perception that encourages the articulation of visual elements and their appropriation by the viewer.”[2]

As examples of the “analog” use of frames, Doulkaridou cites Giorgio Vasari’s scrapbooked compilation of drawings by artists included in his Lives of the Artists, as well as Gustav Ludwig’s 1904 method of reconstituting a cycle of Carpaccio paintings by experimenting with different combinations of the works within a wooden model of Venice’s Sant Orsola Church. In these examples, the framing devices allowed their authors to “play” with images before and during the mapping of their arguments.[3]

Doulkaridou’s final example of an analog framing device, Aby Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, now has its own digital counterpart. Constructed and reconfigured over decades (1866-1929), Warburg’s Atlas was not just a collection of notable icons of Western art, but an attempt to map “how images of great symbolic, intellectual, and emotional power emerge in Western antiquity and then reappear and are reanimated in the art and cosmology of later times and places.”[4] The last version of the Atlas consisted of 63 panels (far fewer than Warburg originally intended to complete) with about 971 images. Though the Atlas was never published, Warburg used his panels to chart historical change in gestures and images in order to determine the constitution of meaning across time and space, deploying them in his lectures.

Online, in partnership with the Warburg Institute, the Cornell University Library has presented 10 of the photographed panels with commentary, called Mnemosyne: Meanderings through Aby Warburg’s Atlas. Users can zoom in and out on the panels and images, as well as determine identifying information for the images. Approximating the meaning construction that Warburg conducted himself, contemporary scholars offer panel and image interpretation through the “Guided Panels” function. Using Warburg’s Atlas as a framing device, each “Guided Pathway” demonstrates a possible production from the frame (while also serving as a framing device in turn for users of the website).

Screenshot of Mnemonsyne: Meanderings through Aby Warburg’s Atlas

Doulkaridou argues that Warburg’s method, inclusive of both nodal elements (the images) and flexible “montage” operations (moving them around in different combinations on the panel), enabled “comparison, combination and recombination, closelooking, rearrangement and of course, linking.” [5] In this context, the web interaction of Meanderings approximates the spirit of Warburg’s project.

Doulkaridou stresses that the frame becomes a nodal element when integrated into a system. In the Mnemosyne Atlas example, an image becomes a nodal element within the larger system of a panel. NYPL Labs provided a more recent example of how a frame might function as a node in this visualization of the 187K digital items released at the beginning of this year to the public domain for hi-res download.

Screenshot of NYPL Labs visualization of Jan. 6th, 2016 public domain release of images.

In her discussion of digital framing devices (the Ornamental Prints Online meta-catalog and the Virtuelles Kupferstichkabinett catalog), Doulkaridou notes, “By virtue of such features such as multiple selection, comparative zooming, light tables and linking series of prints together the platform becomes not just a finding aid but a research resource adapted to its object of study, capable of becoming a denkraum – a space for reflection.” The user is able to “concentrate solely on the object of study”, with “the intensity of the framing device calibrated according to the context of use.” [6]

Screenshot of sample Mirador workspace

It is beyond the scope of Doulkaridou’s paper to probe the degree to which these digital devices, in their creation of hyper-real, intricately scalable “spaces for reflection” condition the perceptions and eventual habits or expectations of their users. Tools like Mirador already reflect the increasingly global and collaborative nature of art historical scholarship, allowing collective users to annotate and edit together, while maintaining individual frames. But in what ways might these interfaces and they various ways they structure our viewing begin to condition our not just our visual understand of and arguments about art, but also our perceptions more broadly?


[1] Doulkaridou, Elli. “Reframing Art History.” International Journal for Digital Art History, no. 1 (2015): 71.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid., 73

[4] Johnson, Christopher D. “About the Mnemosyne Atlas,” accessed January 19, 2016, http://warburg.library.cornell.edu/about.

[5] Doulkaridou, 73.

[6] Ibid., 78.

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