Last week, on Nov. 17 and 18, we attended the Computers and the History of Art conference in London/UK in order to present our work and to discuss our approaches with people from a mainly art historical background.
This conference was established in 1985 by art and design historians who happened also to be computer enthusiasts. Initially a forum for the exchange of ideas between people who were using computers in their research, the largely academic membership was soon augmented by members from museums and art galleries, as well as individuals involved in the management of the visual and textual archives and libraries relevant to the subject. Indeed, the audience was composed of art historians, librarians, artists and people from other related fields.
We heard interesting presentations ranging from practical considerations regarding the advantages/disadvantages of the application of digital technologies to the reproduction of art historical artefacts to rather philosophical considerations about the notion of ubiquity in light of the contemporary technological culture and about the impact of current gps mapping technologies on human culture. A number of concrete approaches to presenting art historical archive content on the Web were shown, reflecting current possibilities but also limitations with respect to the taxonomisation and contextualisation of the featured artefacts. Current issues in the preservation and curation of software-based art met considerations about the potential and threat of remix culture by the example of the Youtube platform. A report about the experience of filing a method and apparatus for finding love as an US patent effectively uncovered current practices in the field.
Our two presentations about the 3D information landscape and the explorARTorium caused quite diverse reactions. Of course, since being computer scientists and not art historians, we expected to raise some controversy with our personal approaches to art history. The majority of comments where very helpful and favourable and opened up a lot of exciting opportunities for our further endeavours. The more critical voices about our work gave us a lot of insight on the limitations of our respective approaches and thus also provided very valuable feedback.
The conference itself took place at the very intimate premises of the Centre for Creative Collaboration (C4CC), providing a very comfortable atmosphere for conversation and discussion. We met many nice and interesting people of quite diverse backgrounds and had a lot of opportunities to learn about their work and to reflect upon ours. We want to thank everyone from the CHArt comitee for their efforts to make this great conference happen !