The Visible Archive

In this TEDxCanberrra talk, Mitchell Whitelaw talks about the limitations of the search box paradigm and presents a project he is involved in to preserve and visualize rich data about Australian cultural assets including photographs, prints and documents.

The Visible Archive (now discontinued) was a research project on the visualisation of archival datasets, supported by the National Archives of Australia under the 2008 Ian Maclean Award. As part of this work Whitelaw developed two prototype visualisations of the Archives collection:

  1. The Series Browser, visualising all 65,000 archival series in the collection

2. The A1 Explorer, showing some 64,000 records in series A1

Building on techniques developed in the Visible Archive project, the Flickr Commons Explorer was created. The Explorer (also discontinued) presents a three-pane interface consisting of a term cloud, a single image view, and a thumbnail grid, with a central strip providing navigation and orientation.

Flickr Commons Explorer’s main interface

Visualization of a reference library

Fontanes Handbibliothek (only in German) is a project by the Urban Complexity Lab that investigates explorative ways of knowledge acquisition and representation in the digital space as well as to develop a prototype for Theodor Fontane’s digitized reference library. The reference library located in the Theodor Fontane Archive in Potsdam contains about 150 books and is complemented by a bibliographical database of the “virtual library”. This virtual inventory includes works that have been read by Fontane, but which are not in the collection of the archive (anymore). In a future digital presentation of the collection, the current and virtual library will be united and the approximately 63,000 individual pages of the reference library will be made available in their entirety for the first time.

Interaction on the tool’s user interface

The resulting interactive visualization will open up new and insightful perspectives on a unique author’s library and make it usable and explorable for researchers as well as the public. Fontane as a reader, but also as a commentator on the works of other authors will become visible. Especially the reading traces in the form of numerous annotations and comments in his own handwriting make for a great attraction and value of the collection.

In light of the large, although by the reference library to some extent limited, data space this project not only poses questions concerning the visual exploration of the data, but also the contextualization of Fontane and his reading habits. In an interdisciplinary collaboration with the Theodor Fontane Archive, these questions will be substantiated and put into a cultural-philosophical context. In the final prototype, the theoretical findings will result in an implementation in the form of a novel graphical user interface, which should invite viewers to explore a manifold author’s library.

PixPlot

Overview

PixPlot is a project by Yale Digital Humanities Lab Team. The tool facilitates the dynamic exploration of tens of thousands of images. Inspired by Benoît Seguin et al’s paper at DH Krakow (2016)PixPlot uses the penultimate layer of a pre-trained convolutional neural network for image captioning to derive a robost featurization space in 2,048 dimensions.

Improved Dimensionality Reduction

In order to collapse those 2,048 dimensions into something that can be rendered on a computer screen, we turned to Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP), a dimensionality reduction technique similar to t-Distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embedding (t-SNE) that seeks to preserve both local clusters and an intrepretable global shape.

Dynamic Visualization

The resulting WebGL-powered visualization consists of a two-dimensional projection within which similar images cluster together. Users can navigate the space by panning and zooming in and out of clusters of interest, or they can jump to designated “hotspots” that feature a representative image from each cluster, as identified by the computer.

Future Developments

PixPlot provides new ways of engaging large-scale visual collections. Initial experiments underway at Yale use the tool to look at thousands of cultural heritage images held in the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale Center for British Art, and the Medical Historical Library.

Inside the National Museum of Brazil

Por dentro do Museu Nacional” is a Google Arts & Culture project that makes it possible to revisit the collection of the National Museum of Brazil before its fire of 2018.

A virtual guided tour presents 360° views of the main galleries of the Museum:

This room displays the oldest skeleton discovered in the Americas, popularly known as Luzia.

In other sections of the website you can explore geological and archeological works such as meteorites and pottery pieces:

Meteorite Bendego: the largest Brazilian meteorite and one of the largest in the world.

Vaso globular Marajoara: cerâmica brasileira de 3000 anos

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video recordings of Information Plus Conference

Information Plus is a biennial conference on interdisciplinary practices in information design and visualization. The last edition took place in Potsdam Germany from 19 to 21 October.

Organizers have just updated the website with video recordings of the first conference day and photo documentation of the workshops, exhibition and dialog dinner. The remaining videos will follow over the next weeks.

Presentations I watched so far:

Digital technologies to preserve and disseminate Brazilian cultural collections

The fire that destroyed the National Museum in Rio in September this year sparked the alert for the state of conservation of the Brazilian collections and has motivated initiatives from different sectors of civil society. Tomorrow (September, 27), a group of researchers, curators, and educators will meet to discuss how digital technologies can help preserve, disseminate and popularize national cultural collections.

Coordinator of the Vision and Computer Graphics Laboratory of IMPA (Visgraf-IMPA), and one of the guests of the “I Panorama in Digital Technologies for Museums” (“I Panorama em Tecnologias Digitais para Museus“), Luiz Velho knows the theme well. For over two decades, Visgraf has developed projects related to different processes of safeguarding, researching and disseminating museum collections.

At the round table “State of the art of technological solutions, reflections on experiences implemented”, Velho will present part of the work done by Visgraf. One of them is the 3D Museum, a modeling and visualization project, which resulted in the creation of a website and a CD with the virtual exhibition of a collection of clay sculptures, part of the collection of the Folklore Museum of Rio.

Velho will also present projects created for the Astronomy Museum (MAST) and the Antônio Carlos Jobim Institute. Recently, Visgraf partnered with the Moreira Salles Institute (IMS) to research and develop applications regarding IMS’s photographic cultural heritage.

The event will be held at the auditorium of the FGV headquarters (Praia de Botafogo, 190), from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Registration is free and can be done here

Updated (28 November)

Slides of the presentation Media Technologies in the New Museum

Participants of the round table “State of the art of technological solutions, reflections on experiences implemented”

Luiz Velho talk

Velho presents IMPA and IMS project aiming IMS’s photographic collections.

Digital technologies for museums

The School of Applied Mathematics (EMAp) and the School of Social Sciences (CPDOC) from  Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV) will organize and host the First Panorama in Digital Technologies for Museums (I Panorama em Tecnologias Digitais para Museus) on November 27, 2018.

The objective of this Panorama is to present the demands of the museological sector, as well as reflections on previous experiences. Given the scenario of the recent disaster of the National Museum of UFRJ, it is necessary a reaction of all the actors involved in the theme: managers, researchers, educators and other sectors of society.

The event will discuss the strengthening of a knowledge network around the use of digital technologies in the museum context. Likewise, it is necessary to consider impacts related to the diffusion of the collections of these museums, understanding that the society’s engagement with the issue, as well as the development of a close relationship between population and museums, is one of the ways of preserving, collecting and maintaining investments in these institutions.

Representatives of diverse institutions will participate as speakers in this event. Among them, my Ph.D. co-advisor and coordinator of the Visgraf Laboratory, Luiz Velho.

Collection and Digital Libraries Guide

The “Collection and Digital Libraries Guide” (Guia de Bibliotecas Digitais e Acervos Online, Portuguese only), published by the State Government of São Paulo, Brazil, lists 76 collections and digital libraries with free contents, including images, for consulting and download on different topics. The indicated collections are maintained by important national and international institutions, constituting a wide repository of cultural collections that can contribute to the development of research and motivate the sharing of knowledge in various areas through the internet.

 

Crotos: a project on visual artworks powered by Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons

Crotos is a search and display engine for visual artworks based on Wikidata and using Wikimedia Commons files.

The Wikidata extraction contains more than 133 866 artworks (September 2018) including 66 271 with HD image. This extraction is regularly automatically updated from Wikidata on the basis of the nature of the items and corresponds to visual artworks such as paintings, photographs, prints, illuminated manuscripts and much more.

The interface

Searches can be made by free or indexed search through a user interface. Results are displayed by chronological order with thumbnails. Links on thumbnails open a viewer with the image hosted on Wikimedia Commons.

It is possible to filter the results by type (painting, sculpture, print…) or to specify a period as a criterion.

By default, without criteria, a random selection is displayed. Besides with the Cosmos interface, it is possible to discover the artworks by indexation (par type d’œuvre, creator, movement, genre, collection…).

Descriptors

For each resulting image, the interface displays the title, the creator(s)  and the collection or the location where the artwork is maintained. These information are on Wikidata, a free, collaborative, multilingual, secondary database, collecting structured data to provide support for Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, the other wikis of the Wikimedia movement, and to anyone in the world.

Additional descriptors are date or period, nature of work, material used, inventory number, movement, genre, depicts, main subject, and so on. A full list of descriptors is mentioned here.

Contribution mode

The project has a contribution mode, useful for identifying missing information with facets. Finally, source is on github and the database of Crotos can be downloaded. Both are under Free Licence.

Sound heritage

Conserve the sound is an online museum for vanishing and endangered sounds. The sound of a dial telephone, a walkman, an analog typewriter, a pay phone, a 56k modem, a nuclear power plant or even a cell phone keypad are partially already gone or are about to disappear from our daily life.

Conserve the sound is a project form CHUNDERKSEN and is funded
by the Film & Medienstiftung NRW, Germany.