Day 2 (LKE): Scraping, Sorting, and Scrutinizing Sources

After I wrote the book-length entry yesterday, I didn’t have much time to reflect on digital art history. What is it? Are their digital art histories? Is it a method, a community? Tools? As became clear yesterday, there is no one definition–at least not yet. Some of yesterday’s most fruitful conversation centered around the thresholds concepts of art history. These are the core concepts that each person must “master” (pass the threshold) to enter into the shared community of experts in our field. In small groups, we were asked to discuss the following question: What are the threshold concepts for art history that separate us from other disciplines? This involved some time travel because we had to imagine our experiences in our introductory art history courses. Each group brainstormed and listed some excellent ideas.

 

Today, Day 2 we’ve discussed a variety of topics. Our twitter group is the best place to follow (#doingdah14) because we are processing a lot of information. Some highlights from today include the potential for digital art history to be subversive or to provide new, alternative narratives from those in power.

We’ve also learned some fascinating information about how to harness the power of Google when searching for images, knowing about who links to our own websites, and so on and so forth. Given my obsessive (and bizarre) interest in finding public domain images, I learned some new ways in which to narrow my searches.

We also discussed Zotero, which most people had never used. As a convert of Zotero, I can say that I prefer it to Endnote and love that it is open source. However, I do find it clunky with images. I still prefer my own method: folders (e.g., “Aztec Stone Sculpture”).

Today’s homework is to “identify relevant digital repositories and consider ways to create an intentional archive of sources for our next day. Blog about it.” So here goes. I could spend days finding different repositories because of my project’s broad time span. I decided to limit myself to the sixteenth century. I began my search by looking to repositories that I’ve used in the past, like the Archivo General de la Nacion in Mexico City. I decided to make a Zotero folder for all the digital repositories so that I could quickly and easily list my findings as well as continue adding to the folder.

Here are some of the ones I think will benefit my project most:

Archives and Libraries with Primary Texts

  • Archivo General de la Nacion, D.F. (Scans of archival documents)
  • John Carter Brown Library (digital copies of printed period texts–this is incredibly useful)
  • Franciscana Library, Cholula, Mexico (digital copies of 114 printed period texts)
  • Google Books (perhaps this doesn’t count? However, I’m including it here. If I search for different subjects like “sangre de cristo” or “muerte” and limit the dates to 1521-1600, I can find so many digital copies of printed period texts. Then I can make the PDFs readable. My life–my marriage!–is indebted to Google Books)
  • CDC–a source for information, like this article

Image Repositories

  • Florentine Codex on the World Digital Library (the entire 12 volumes!)
  • PESSCA (for possible print sources)
  • Sadly, there aren’t really that many beyond searching on Artstor.

 

What is clear to me after searching for suitable and useful repositories is that there are some for textual materials, but few for images. I think I will have to gather the images from a wide array of sources (my own photos, books, museum websites, artstor, others). While this task is daunting, it also encourages me to make a digital project where many of these images can be found in one location.

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