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The Rise of Digital Art History

Module by: Hilary Ballon, Mariet Westermann. E-mail the authors

Art history is not only ripe for electronic publication but can push the enterprise in new directions with benefits for a wide variety of illustrated works. First, the discipline has developed digital competency due to profound changes in the classroom, where digital images are well on their way to supplanting 35mm slides. The electronic classroom has cultivated a relatively high degree of digital literacy among art historians of all generations who have learned the mechanics of digital teaching. Such a scholar can download images from the web, resize them, enlarge details, adjust the color and import the images into slide lectures. She scans, knows about pixels, tiffs and jpegs, uses PhotoShop, PowerPoint, Luna Insight, and ARTstor as well as its offline viewer, takes digital pictures and archives them in multiple formats suitable for the web, classroom projection, and publication.

Digital teaching has not only created digital competence; it has stimulated the development and application of tools to simulate and enhance the experience of viewing art and architecture in ways impossible to achieve with slides. These tools make it possible to unfurl scrolls, move through buildings, zoom in on details, overlay different states of an etching, track the build-up of a painting, animate structural forces, navigate 3-D reconstructions of ruins, model an unbuilt design, and map archaeological sites. These examples do not represent exotic, high-end technical toys. They are increasingly commonplace features of digital teaching, museum presentation, and tools of research and analysis, but cannot be well accommodated on the static printed page. Their spreading application is creating a demand for electronic publishing outlets.

Art history is characterized by a computer-literate professoriate, an established commitment to digital presentation, and an appreciation of the analytic potential of electronic tools. These tools are yielding new perspectives on the objects of study, but now the only place they can be deployed, and their evidence shared fully, is in the classroom. Incubated in digital laboratories, electronically enhanced research is secured by university passwords that make it inaccessible to outsiders. Publishable work needs to be lifted from university silos and made accessible to the scholarly community with a stake in its content.

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Definition of a lens

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A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

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| External bookmarks