A Venice site

I can imagine creating something like this with students about the city of Venice. The link is to The Virtual Lawn produced at the University of Virginia. There’s a great deal here that focuses on Jefferson and his architecture at UVA, but also the Renaissance architect Palladio, Humanism, ancient and Renaissance villas, and much more.

I also really like Frederic Kaplan’s Ted Talk on building an information time machine on the city of Venice. This would be a challenge here.

 

Venice 2014 online exhibit

The spring 2014 Venice seminar is learning Omeka for our online exhibit. Gradually, the site is developing. There’s a learning curve for everyone. Omeka is very different from the umwblogs/wordpress system used in the past. Other than being “online,” there isn’t much to carry over from earlier experiences.

The class is hoping to use the design format of the exhibit, “Some were neighbors,” from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. We’ll see if this is possible.

Here is a list of online exhibits we recently reviewed:

http://dp.la/exhibitions/exhibits/show/activism

http://www.historymuseum.ca/gwichin/introduction/the-gwichin/

http://www.york.ac.uk/history-of-art/virtual-exhibition/satireandthecity.html

http://www.statemuseum.arizona.edu/exhibits/frida/web/index.shtml

http://www.nli.ie/1916/1916_main.html

http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/drugtrade/

http://greenfield.brynmawr.edu/exhibits/browse

http://archaeologicalmuseum.jhu.edu/the-collection/object-stories/archaeology-of-daily-life/

http://www.lib.umd.edu/LAB/exhibits/leadingrole/index.html

http://www.lib.umd.edu/civilwarwomen/exhibition/introduction_womenwar.html

http://somewereneighbors.ushmm.org/#/exhibitions

http://66.147.244.104/~amerifl5/americanstories/

http://www.johnrogers-history.org/

DMCI proposal

My original proposal for participation in the Digital Media Commons Initiative at UMW:

“My seminars on Venice include an online exhibit; these are vehicles for art history majors to present research on the art, culture, history, and environment of this extraordinary city. (The exhibit from 2011 is available here.) The exhibits attract attention online, and this is rewarding for students. Nevertheless, there is no contact between our students and students elsewhere in the US or in Italy. This project aims to remove barriers by establishing connections with colleagues and students beyond UMW in the creation of a website on which students from several institutions could collaborate. My current Venice seminar and May study abroad program to Venice and Croatia can initiate these connections.

Art history is the study of visual communications over time. While art historians often work alone and in archives, we also work collaboratively and with the newest technologies. Art history at UMW supports both approaches. This project connects on-site archival study with online collaborative discoveries, and establishes connections that currently do not exist. I have not identified an online project like this elsewhere; its uniqueness and innovativeness would draw students to UMW, to the ITCC, and to the interdisciplinary study of art history. It is a natural fit for the ITCC because it speaks to the Center’s mission to “imagine, create, share, and learn.” The project re-imagines teaching and learning here at UMW as both a classroom and a global liberal arts experience. The ITCC will be an actual building, but it will also be a virtual space open to a global community with its heart at UMW.”

 

Sarah Sze, “Triple Point,” 55th Venice Biennale 2013

Silentio Pathologia might be compared with Sarah Sze’s installation Triple Point at the U. S. Pavilion in the Giardini.

U.S. Pavilion, Giardini, Venice

U.S. Pavilion, Giardini, Venice

Sze has brought many thousands of things into the rooms and part of the landscape of the Pavilion. These things include cans of paint, pads of paper, mirrors, ladders, lamps, rocks, photographs, furniture, and countless other objects.

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There is little that connects these objects between rooms and no sense that rooms have been transformed.

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According to Sze, “[t]he title for the whole show, ‘Triple Point,’ refers to the situation where all three states of a substance—gas, liquid, and solid—can exist at once. So it’s this teetering between states, the fragility of equilibrium, and the constant desire to create stability and a sense of place that frame the narrative.” (Conversation between Sarah Sze and Rirkrit Tiravanija, “Thing Theories,” in ArtForum, summer 2013.)

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In the Pavilion, the things that constitute Triple Point speak less to the “fragility of equilibrium, [a] constant desire to create stability and a sense of place,” than an attempt to turn one’s garage into a kind of sci-fi stage. Certainly, there is the “ahhh” factor – some things move, shadows are cast, objects are organized by color — but this is mostly an accumulation of stuff built up or laid out.

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As an installation, Triple Point arouses a viewer’s curiosity and urges one to play with things. Silentio Pathologia, on the other hand, draws the visitor into a space wherein the physical and intellectual journeys are created by the objects, and one experiences these objects as a coherent environment.

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva (Macedonia), “Silentio Pathologia,” 55th Venice Biennale 2013

The year is 1348. Europe is about to meet its worst enemy. Within a few years, nearly two-thirds of the population of the continent is dead. The cause? The Bubonic Plague. Rats were host bodies…where rats travelled, the plague followed. Cities, towns, rural areas all experienced horrific devastation and chaos. Those who survived the plague long-remembered this time as a period of sorrow, confusion, and absolute fear. In “Silentio Pathologia” the artist Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva considers the rapid movement of the plague in early modern Europe, and finds parallels to the transmission of viruses today.

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“Silentio Pathologia” encompasses the entire interior of the Scuola dei Laneri, the former confraternity of the wool workers in Venice. One might feel claustrophobic here were it not for the natural light streaming in from the expansive windows along the entrance wall. The location was a lucky find and adds a layer of meaning to interpretations of this work. Wool was one of the many products Venetians transported across early modern Europe, unwittingly playing a significant role in the transmission of plague.

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The visitor to the Scuola dei Laneri today also journeys. At the entrance of the Scuola one encounters the opening of a path marked by a metal wall about 10′ high at the left (two and a half tons of metal all told), and at the right a drape of silkworm cocoons threaded together. Here, one’s journey begins. The metal is imposing…most remains untouched but some areas show the effects of being worked in a circular motion by a grinder.

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The metal surface also receives the patterned shadows cast by the threaded cocoons. The visitor walks between the wall of metal and drape of cocoons in a vaguely circular journey that leads to new walls…one made of untreated black silk threads stitched together by Elpida…

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and the other wall a drape of albino rat pelts, also stitched together by the artist.

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In early modern Europe, rats were carriers of disease. Today they are among the most common living creatures in research labs for the study of disease. At the center of “Silentio Pathologia” are two cages with pet rats. As the artist explained, the rats need to be held and stroked every day, preferably by the same person because the rats become familiar with one’s scent and like it; this care insures that the rats remain tamed and do not revert to their wild state. At the heart of this journey we come face to face with a dilemma…taming our fears requires embracing them.

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Above:  Preston Thayer with the artist, Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva, at the 55th Venice Biennale, May 28, 2013, talking through the gauze of black silk thread.

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva completed her MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art, London in 1998 and currently lives and works in Brighton, England. Her work was part of the 51st Venice Biennale in ArtSway’s New Forest Pavilion.  For more on Silentio Pathologia, see the artist’s blog at: http://blog.elpihv.co.uk/category/55th-venice-biennale/.

Silentio Pathologia was curated by Ana Frangovska, curator at the National Gallery of Macedonia, Skopje.

A expanded version of this post appears in The Art Section, (summer 2013, 7/6).

Online exhibits and digital art history

A way of thinking about online exhibits?  “The wind of commerce hit museums harder than many universities. In some instances necessity occasioned the creation of good websites as the public face of the institution (interest logged via hits per week); in others it provoked a rethink of the mission of museums and a dumbing down to a lower common denominator, in displays, special exhibitions, and websites. Museums are in a state of flux because of computers and the Web: can/should technology be applied to these dusty mausolea of out-of-context artifacts to provide a learned, multimedia, immersive context – the nearest thing now possible to reintegrating the works with the context from which they were removed? Or is the museum of the future to be a theme park, lacking any truly educational mission, with Web displays as part of the fun? Believers in culture should hope for the former; but, as the inscription on Wren’s tomb nearly has it, Si monumentum requiris, cinumclicke.

Indeed, should we extrapolate from the existence of the Web to the decline of campus-based universities and physical museums and galleries? If galleries can only display a small proportion of their collection at any one time, should not funding go into web-based image databases?”

Michael Greenhalgh, “Art History”

In A Companion to Digital Humanities, ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.

http://www.digitalhumanities.org/companion/

 

Digital art history

Working now on digital art history.  Here are some resources:

Diane M. Zorich’s report to the Kress Foundation on the role of digital scholarship in art history;  “Transitioning to a Digital World:  Art History, Its Research Centers, and Digital Scholarship,” June 2012.

A post from Emory University’s Woodruff Library on Zorich’s report for the Kress Foundation.  Quick links here to digital art history projects cited in the report.

A post by Hasan Niyazi with references to recent discussions, December 2012.

Five participants in the Digital Art History Lab held March 5-7, 2013 at the Getty discuss the state of the field and the principles of networked scholarship:

• Hans Brandhorst, editor of the Iconclass system (http://www.iconclass.nl) and the Arkyves Web catalogue (http://www.arkyves.org/)

• Johanna Drucker, Bernard and Martin Breslauer Professor Bibliography in the Department of Information Studies and founder of the Digital Humanities program at UCLA

• Emily Pugh, Smith Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA) at the National Gallery of Art, and Web developer for the online journal Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide

• Nuria Rodríguez Ortega, chair of the Department of Art History at the University of Málaga, Spain

• Moderator: Susan Edwards, art historian and digital humanities technologist, J. Paul Getty Trust