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Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, EVA 09:

This three day conference took place from July 6-8th 02009 in Covent Garden, London, at the BCS headquarters. The conference was organised by Suzanne Keene, George Mallen, Francesca Monti, Gemma Liddiard and others (thank you!) and supported by the British Computer Society BCS and CAS, the Computer Arts Society. Just as last year (not documented here) the conference has been about new technologies, mainly various visualisation technologies (also multi-modal ones) with applications mostly in the arts and heritage or museum sector. As a result what is presented is rarely technology-led and emerges out of the necessity of making captivating content, such as museum collections, accessible.
Running parallel to the conference was a program of workshops which I did not attend. Here is a transcript of my wild notes. The proceedings can be found at the BCS website:
Disclaimer: I may have misunderstood some things and got others completely wrong!

Day 1, 02009/07/06

George Mallen described in a few opening words how EVA conferences were taking place all over the world now, such as in Berlin, Florence, Vienna, Jerusalem, Montreal, Moscow and others.
Paul Bryan presented research into documenting rock art in Northumberland using conventional digital photography. Two photographs are used to create a stereo image that again can be used to create 3D data. Very impressive also how 'raking light photography' reveals otherwise hidden textures of an artefact.
Their work is documented here: and the free software "VisualSize" that uses photometrology to reconstruct 3D information from digital photographs:
Graeme Earl showed us how they are using polynomial texture mapping (very similar to Bjorn Barnekow's "time mirror") to capture and simulate the colour of an ancient roman marble amazon found at Herculaneum in Italy. See the effects here Amazon head using HP Labs polynomial texture mapping technique We also learned that marble, just as skin, has "top surface light scattering" implying that its semi-translucent and light moves within the top layers beneath the perceived surface. Someone should use the same technique at Göbekli Tepe in southeastern Turkey. The images from there are often taking during midday and its hard to distinguish any detail.

Kim Veltman gave a great talk on different efforts of different cultures using technology in the heritage sector - often leapfrogging. From portable radio stations transported in backpacks in Kathmandu, used to collect and disseminate local history/stories from remote areas compared to European attempts to connect different digital databases with one another, such as Europeana, EMN, RAMA, MENHIR, BAM/GBV, Museumsonline or Cultural Heritage Online. He recommended Alfredo M. Ronchi's book "eCulture: Cultural Content in the Digital Age" (2009, Springer Verlag). Another text available here on a 'Trans-European culture heritage education network. He warned to rely on Google to accomplish this task and gave an overview how search results for ten different terms completely vacillated from year to year, increasing, decreasing and exploding again. We needed independent search engines.

He mentioned Belgian lawyer Paul Otlet who had the idea for Mundaneum. Over the course of several years this project tried to organise all the knowledge of the world on index cards, a 1910 precursor of the Internet:
"AirTags" on the iPhone allowed to annotate the real world on the fly. Being a type of 'augmentation' it shows restaurant reviews etc. on the display depending on geographical location (/orientation?). Very intriguing the way in which Kim's various & diverse examples of approaches, mindsets and technologies finally do form a very coherent and integrative worldview reminding of integral thinking.
He said much much more but this would stretch this format too far. Kim Veltman's website can be found at: System for Universal Media Searching.

The next speaker excused himself because of illness. After a break Nic Earle presented research into using Second Life as a platform to better understand, simulate and engage with a historic model of Pompeij rebuilt in the successful Crystal Palace exhibition, the popular 'house of the tragic poet'. A visualisation about visualisation. One of the applications is that students are made aware with this model how history is presented to them.

This was followed by a presentation by Oana Gui. She showed their efforts to communicate historical sites in Transylvania of which seven are UNESCO sites. Their institute developed a biologically inspired software that allows to capture photographs of objects in a very high contrast environment. This biomorphic algorithm simulates retina and she demonstrated its usefulness with examples of historic wooden churches that could have hardly been covered with traditional photography.

Crandall Shifflett introduced their documentation & reconstruction the historic Jamestown settlement in Virginia. In 1610 this settlement was built at the confluence of the river James and Chickahominy River close to another settlement, the Paspahegh village, giving the name to the project. In this project programers, artists, archaeologists as well as teachers and students collaborated. 25 historic watercolour paintings of the 'Rodo Colony' by John White (1585) were used to complement the archaeological findings. Also of help were historic reports from 1590. (Maya & Modo were used for modelling.) More about the settlement can be found here At this location the first contact between settlers and native Americans had been made. There is a golf course now.

Jane Devine Mejia from the University of Brighton presented an e-learning project involving various institutions and a large team. In this collaborative project design students used Social Networking Software to create a digital exhibition (for peers?) of the works of a National Trust site at 2 Willow Road, London. The project is documented here:

James Coltrain demonstrated three examples of how 3D reconstruction can be used to engage the public and demonstrate different views of 'history.' His conclusion was that 3D visualisation cannot be a substitute for the 'real' experience - but allow the curators to offer various interpretations and stages for contradictory findings.

Angelina Russo gave an intriguing overview of the social role of museums and how their role had been changing over time. What is the social meaning of the knowledge they store? How do the objects effect communities? How have museum displays changed over time? They preserve and present collective memory. War museums were social museums.
Museums were converging and innovating. Part of that is taking place through visitor involvement and feedback.
First generation museums: Collections & buildings.
Second generation museums: Linking content to communities
Third generation museums: Shifting from top-down culture networks to bottom-up value networks.
What are value networks? Participatory content/co-created content was a start.
What is the ROI? What do audiences do with content?
Examples of that:
National Museums online: "Creative Space"
Flickr: Picture Australia, tagged with 'cc' and high-res images
tools/instruments that enable easy involvement
NZ National Museum: Papa Tongarewa, an interactive map with user-generated content.
The Wall: Flickr images interactive
What will the Museum 3.0 be like? People are thinking about this here:
There still was the question of who owned this visitor generated content. Some museums integrate it into their own sites.

After a long and exciting day Francesca Monti gave an overview of research she did on the audience of visitors to the Egypt Tomb, one gallery/room at the British Museum. Her framework was very interesting as it combined qualitative and quantitative methods.
What are spectacular objects, what inconspicuous objects?
How do visitors perceive:
space syntax, design idioms, object biographies (+ and gaps), beauty and usability (font sizes), visual communication? No clutter of colours, no sound, coherent montage of video? (Gillian Rose, "visual methods")
Visitors spend on average 442 seconds in the gallery, four time longer then other galleries.
70% of visitors watched a 2min video at the entrance. 50% watched the full duration. It had a high attraction and holding power.
Assessment on website:
Was the gallery easy to find? (it was not listed prominently on the BM homepage)
Was it designed well?
User friendly?
The types of information? Wealth? Text?
Spectacular and inconspicuous objects have a synergy through layout of exhibition, visual design and interpretation strategy.
This was an impressive framework: With limited resources and a comparably short preparation valuable insights were gained.

Day 2, 02009/07/07

Catherine Mason presented an seminal and mostly forgotten event of the history of the Computer Arts Society (CAS) the EVENT ONE exhibition. She noted that the role of CAS was changing, in that it was slowly being recognised as an essential historic part of the computer arts movement. Founded in 1968 by Alan Sutcliffe, George Mallen and John Lansdown, the emphasis was not on "a" singular "Computer Art" but on inclusive "Computer Arts". Gustav Metzger was the first editor of PAGE magazine which was published between 1969 until 1985.
Landsdown: "Computer art is a special form of artificial intelligence"
John Bucklow "The folder", Adrian Nutbeem "Object, Text, Light, Appearance," Stroud Cornock "Gemini". Art was becoming a process - not an object.
Brower Hatcher "Even One"
First computer animation: Tony Pritchett "The Flexipede"
PAGE "Bulletin for the Computer Arts Society" from April 1969, celebrating the success of EVENT ONE can be found here:
They also used questionnaires, developed by Gordon Pask, to receive feedback from visitors.

Stefan Zedlacher is based in an architecture department and his students explore 'digital media.' Their research explores 'visualisation technologies' and 'social interaction.'

Day 3, 02009/07/08

I have been busy until now ... now i have the time, but my notes from the conference are stowed away in a repository. mmhh

Books mentioned ...
1533.jpg 1548.jpg

Sehe mit fühlendem Aug’, fühle mit sehender Hand.
See with a feeling eye, feel with a seeing hand.
Goethe, roman elegies, V

last update: 8/11/02013 22:26

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