No matter how well I feel I have prepared for the semester I always feel like I stumble through the first week of classes. Hence our theme for this blog post “falling” into the semester. Falling doesn’t always have to be bad however. You can fall down stairs (see left) or off a cliff (see Wily Coyote) but you can also fall into a ball pool. And who doesn’t love that. For that reason, the beginning of this semester, although stumbly, is a really exciting time because there a lot of new projects, but all of them are immensely exciting and hold great promise for the work we do in the DML and at the BGC in general.
Our second big project is the development of an archive of digital student work. As work in the DML has increased we have had more and more projects coming through that we would like to archive and catalog as a record of the lab’s role in the BGC’s institutional life. In addition we want to give professors the opportunity and platform to show how their pedagogical practice has evolved and the student work that has resulted from those courses. We are looking to start the archive with work from Prof. Whelan’s ongoing oral history project of designers and craftspeople, and with video and web projects from Prof. Jaffee’s courses on the material culture of 19th and 20th century New York City. At this point we are looking at Omeka as the platform of choice and myself, and the DML workstudies and interns will be working with faculty, our art director Laura Grey and our digital content developer Vanessa Rossi to develop the archive and web sites.
One final project of note is the BGC’s involvement in the development of a new digital edition of Franz Boas’s 1897 monograph The Social Organization and the Secret Societies of the Kwakiutl Indians. This project, which is funded in its first year by a NEH Digital Start-up Grant, is an ambitious project to bring together thousands of texts, media, and objects to reassemble this important work in a way that was not possible when it was originally published. The project includes collaborators from institutions across North America and Europe and the DML will play an important role in hosting platforms for early stage collaboration and collection of materials through tools such as Wikidot wikis and Omeka, and may include an expansion into new tools such as ContentDM. This type of long-term project will be a challenge considering the scale of the work in relation to our previous endeavors, but is exactly the type of challenge that will help the DML to better serve the growing digital needs of the BGC community.
That’s not even all that’s going on. We will be preparing for a 2013 repeat of Prof. Jaffee’s NEH-funded summer institute on material culture, which will have an increasingly developed digital practice aspect. In Prof. Gaskell’s course Tangible Things we will be experimenting with telepresence and the study of distant objects in the classroom through video technology. Students in my own course, Media and Materiality, will be building a collection and timeline of media objects, using the Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History as a model. There will also be beginning work done on focus gallery projects by Dean Peter Miller, AMNH post-doc Nicola Sharratt, associate curator Ann Tartsinis, and my own project on Interface Design.