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Day 3: Methods and categories

Anna Foka

01 February 2021

After two days of meetings, the Institute Members’ task on Wednesday was to identify key interests that they want to pursue, under the larger sub-themes of the Ancient Itineraries Getty Institute.

Coloured post-it notes were used to represent Geography (yellow), Visualisation (pink), and Provenance (orange) and white ones for interests that applied to more than one theme. The entire team agreed upon the fact that their interests in geography, visualization and provenance often overlap. In the end, everyone had contributed to each of the themes. We ended up with four walls for post-its with key interests and very often challenges

After lunch, everyone was invited to examine their contributions closely and to decide their first and second preferred group choice; fortunately, almost everyone was grouped within their first choice, and the result was three very balanced groups.


The Institute Members, now grouped into Geography, Visualization and Provenance (see pictures) discussed their experiences in relation to Art History objects. Visualisations that engage with senses other than vision, the complex element of time, mapping layers of networks and connections, dealing with digital and physical materialities were some of the discussions that came up within their groups.  


Everyone agreed on the importance of usability, audience/users, as well as sustainability and interoperability; and while content and use are of high importance, so is technology, in determining what we can and cannot do. Digitization as interpretation was a phrase that kept on being repeated throughout the day.


The keynote speech by Ben Zweig from the National Gallery in Washington DC similarly discussed methods, problems, and possibilities in relation to digitization more precisely in relation to projects carried out by the National Gallery:  NGA Images, the Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative, and the History of American Landscape Design, for example. The speech targeted current and ongoing practices around proof of concept, the semantic functioning of projects, how the term digital doesn’t always mean cheaper and faster, infrastructural tensions that may arouse from digitization and how digitization should be content driven with stark research questions in place to begin with.

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