Creating Digital Artefacts

This module was perhaps my favorite, largely due to the engaging critical readings encouraging a new perspective on the image as a whole, and representation. This was quite a comprehensive introduction to a vast topic, requiring further research to develop a comprehensive understanding.

One of the core things that I took from this module was thought on issues around the curation of a digital image collection, and the various steps as part of the process.

A lot was covered including Legality and Ethics. Copyright law was quite interesting for me, as I furthered my understanding I discovered that a lot of my assumptions had been wrong – and it is a very much disputed topic, especially when it comes to photographs. The idea of recording the world vs. artistic interpretation may seem simple in theory, but in actuality it is not at all. Many of the concerns brought up by theorists in the Twentieth Century are still applicable today in the digital age, even if they were talking about Analogue recording assisted by machines. The digital object is a representation, whether it is a file, text or an image.

A lot of conceptual theory was addressed early on, this was useful in terms of understanding the digital file.

I learned how to cheaply digitize negatives, which is quite practical – it specifically benefits me in that i can now digitise older negatives for the purposes of projects, or to source Archival Material. However, even if there are not necessarily legal issues with this there may be ethical issues with the attachment of information as demonstrated by the thought provoking documentary “Finding Vivian Maier”. I’ve alluded to this in my blog

The internet has changed everyday life immensely, and the image plays quite a central role on the internet. Visual stimulation is a large part of the appeal of successful web pages, so obviously the image content is quite important for the consumption of web users.

Importantly, I learned the basics of metadata – encoding data with images to make them searchable and machine readable. This is very important in terms of search-ability, and can come up in disputes over ownership of a digital image. This was quite a good introduction, learning the concepts behind Metadata and practicalities around using and editing Metadata.

Metadata allows data to be transported within the image file, text conveying information about those images. It may fall into several categories – Administrative, Descriptive and Rights (acknowledgements). Photos can travel, be changed and edited and it is important to be able to understand this – especially with archival material, or datasets sourced externally. One should try use software that doesn’t automatically erase metadata, especially when images are copyrighted. “Sidecar files” refer to external metadata in a data management system, but Metadata can also be embedded in a file itself.

Metadata standards allow it to be read externally. XML was developed by Adobe around 2001, Xtensible Markup Language, this was largely designed to be easily convertible to XMP for example. However, one should consider that this language can potentially encode any information under any heading, and this will not be easily readable unless it is done according to a standard such as Dublin Core or VRA. Different standards have different advantages

A guest speaker went into the specifics of what I was interested in in more detail – Angeliki Chrysanthi who gave a practical introduction to Geotagging which is spoken of in my blog posts. A good point was made that even if archival material exists that is relevant but that it is not machine readable without datasets being constructed. Temporal and spatial attributes are seen as becoming increasingly relevant, and while this is treated differently for texts and images I saw this as being relevant to much of the textual materials that I worked with from the Eighteenth Century during my MA English – or at least how such information could have been incredibly useful. Particularly in terms of Geotagging locations, and the styles of representing this information through colour coded charts.

There will be links to posts explaining ideas and research in much more detail here in the future!

Watch this space!