This week, we talked about the pedagogy of DH. Caroline Bruzelius and Hannah Jacobs in their article, “The Living Syllabus: Rethinking the Introductory Course to Art History with Interactive Visualization.” describe a shift in the approach to art education, that move away from viewing artworks in isolation as aesthetic events within a larger linear historical evolution. Instead, students can better engage with the materiality of art objects, tracing their life from creation to collection through the use of maps. This project really spoke to me since the project I’ve worked on for this class has been thinking through some of the same ideas and issues. Seeing a deeper understanding of the role of artworks in large networks and systems of trade, travel, and commodification was really promising to me and I would have loved to take this class.
Allowing students to create maps based on their individual interests, like the origin of materials used in ancient Egyptian boats, the professors can stimulate higher levels of research and engagement in students. Students can use different methods of primary materials and propose their interpretations, fostering critical thinking.
Moreover, the incorporation of visualization and data collection technologies, such as Omeka and Neatline tools, not only benefits students in art history but also equips them with skills applicable to other courses and projects. For example, a student applied these tools to model pollution rates in a different class. The passage emphasizes the importance of integrating digital tools into education, highlighting their role in enhancing twenty-first-century literacy.
The passage concludes by noting the irony that technologies are well-suited to the study of material culture. Despite this irony, technology’s capacity to record, capture, and organize data enables a new level of engagement with art and material culture, fostering a deeper understanding of objects, places, and buildings.
Solmaz Kive in “Digital Methods for Inquiry into the Eurocentric Structure of Architectural History Surveys,” discusses how eurocentric bias shows up in architectural surveys and highlights the advantages of using data analysis and visualization techniques to expose such biases. She focuses on two contemporary surveys, “Architecture and Interior Design” and “World Architecture,” to show how these digital methods can reveal patterns and disparities in coverage.
The Eurocentric bias is identified in several areas, including the relative coverage of different regions, the structure of the survey, and the emphasis on certain building types associated with Western values. She emphasizes that the bias often manifests in an overemphasis on religious structures in “other” traditions, reinforcing the narrative of premodernity.
The analysis uses digital visualizations to map the geographical distribution of buildings discussed in these surveys. For “Architecture and Interior Design,” the map reveals a heavy concentration of examples in Europe and the United States, with sparse coverage in other parts of the world. The disparity is visually evident, exposing areas deemed unworthy of mention. In the case of “World Architecture,” the map shows a more geographically diverse content but still highlights the concentration on certain regions, such as Asia, while specific regions of South America and Africa receive selective attention. The map helps depict the relative scale and coverage of different areas, addressing the mismatch between geographical size and attention in the survey. She concludes by emphasizing the versatility of data analysis and visualization methods because it can expose biases and highlight their adaptability to different types of surveys.
I think that as technology in the public sphere progresses and people get more used to technology, art history and the humanities will have no choice but to adapt and include digital methods. Even things that haven’t been traditionally considered to be “academic” can be used for teaching. Using Pinterest in class was a great exercise and categorizing things visually as an obvious and easily palpable way to visualize something that professors try to describe. This group activity was a really cool way to introduce discussions and start conversations.