¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 My final paper was a reflection on my data project, the semester, and the unsettled position of art history and art within the digital humanities. I’ve discussed the hopes and problems I had for my data project several times in the past. One of my goals for the semester was to learn how digital humanities tools could be used for the study of art and art history and this paper was an opportunity to explore this curiosity.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Willard McCarthy and Harold Short’s 2001 diagram of disciplines practicing digital humanities originally did not include arts and art history. Source: Nuria Rodríguez Ortega, “It’s Time to Rethink and Expand Art History for the Digital Age.” 2013, The Iris, Los Angeles, The Getty. Digital Image. December 2016.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 A particularly eye-opening and stirring text was Nuria Rodríguez Ortega’s blog entry, “It’s Time to Rethink and Expand Art History for the Digital Age.” It was published in The Iris, the Getty’s blog, to coincide with a lab considering the the practice of art history scholarship in the so-called digital age. In it, Rodríguez Ortega points out that in early (circa early 2000s) models of the digital humanities included art and art history as an afterthought. This is, in part, due to the fact early proponents of the digital humanities had backgrounds in literary studies or other such logocentric disciplines. Rodríguez Ortega’s blog develops to encourage a recovery of art and art history’s relationship with digital and technological development parallel to and within the digital humanities.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 I focused on the Getty’s lab and its supplementary texts in the form of blogs, slideshows, Twitter streams, and articles because they represent an early critical conversation focused on art, art history, and DH. One fundamental text to this conversation is Diane Zorich’s study for the Kress foundation, “Transitioning to a Digital World,” published in 2012 Zorich’s study highlights certain barriers in the attitudes of art historians and art history research institutions in embracing dh-type tools and techniques. There are practical and economic obstacles: lack of funding for resources and training and a shortage of “expert scholars.” Zorich also points to a bias among art historians against digital and web based tools in the example of the image of the scholar within the archives. Traditionally, the reputational value of an art history scholar is built on a discovery she or he made in the archive—an undiscovered work or little analyzed work of an artist— and embargoed the piece during the writing of their piece of scholarship. For archives to digitize and subsequently have all their holdings available and transparent is a threat to this mode of practice.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 My research as informed by Zorich, also suggests that innovations towards dh then may not be brought about by art historians but by archivists, art librarians, and digitally-inclined artists. I would say that On Kawara is such an example. His work, like many Conceptual artists, blurs the line between art object and metadata. Institutions like Eyebeam and Rhizome, which were established by new media, and digital artists are good examples. Both institutions humbly began as e-mail lists. Rhizome’s founders developed ArtBase, the largest collection of historical and contemporary digital-based and born-digital artworks. Eyebeam, a New York based educational center and new media museum has also, since its founding been dedicated to education.