Spring 2020 Teaching

It is hard to believe the term is flying by so quickly, but Bookbagging will soon be upon us. I’ll be teaching the optional VMS Capstone and the ISS Capstone together, well as teaming up again with the illustrious Trudi Abel for the next stages of Digital Durham, our ongoing post Bass-Connections project. We are excited to continue the conversations around how he presence of the past lives on, and how we can engage with and represent it while working towards a better a future.

Over at FHI we plan to introduce some “DH in the Disciplines” lunchtime panels to keep the conversation going around evaluation standards. We’ll continue with the NCCU Fellows and PhD Lab as well as reconvene our VARDHI team to talk more about evaluation standards, so it should be a busy semester!



New Media Caucus Border Control presentation of Psychasthenia Studio

On Friday, September 20, 2019 I presented the work of Psychasthenia Studio at the New Media Caucus Border Control conference in Ann Arbor, MI. Great venue, great conversations. Very pleased to see many of my ACM SIGGRAPH collaborators as well as friends from the CAA/NMC world. I got to discuss ideas for our new project, focused on Insomnia, and to hear more from others who are experimenting with game engines for art. Also caught up with Sair Goetz, the fabulous Duke grad and artist now working with a collective in Oakland.

The following week I got to share this work with a group of Chinese entrepreneurs visiting Duke – a very different, though equally receptive audience. We had a great discussion about how to promote art/science cross-overs and interdisciplinary thinking. Game platforms are one of several places were we can see that happening.

Speaking of which, the Games Initiative at Duke is picking up steam (haha) this year too, centering around the work of colleagues in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, partners in foreign language studies, and with our local community in CMAC and ISS heading over to the West Campus game lab for some teaching this year.

Fall 2019 Teaching (and other activities)

Great news! I’ve been promoted to Full Research Professor!  This semester I’m taking a break from teaching classes to focus on next steps for project work (Digital Durham, Visualizing Cities, Psychasthenia Studio, and a new project, Visualizing Lovecraft!). I’m also writing up some grant reports and getting ready to apply for new ones.

Meanwhile, I’m also working on the development of the interdepartmental major between Computer Science and Visual and Media Studies.  We hope to get it in front of the Curriculum Committee this Fall. It is exciting to bring some of the CMAC magic of the PhD and the MA to the undergrad programs! Many students have been doing this ad hoc, but now we can create more  accessible pathways into this kind of work.

Meanwhile, the Digital Humanities Initiative is going strong. The PhD Lab in Digital Knowledge will still be continuing this year (with Phil Stern and me at the helm) at the FHI, as well the NCCU-Duke DH Fellows program. And I will continue to work with undergrad and grad students on their theses and dissertations, so I shouldn’t become too out of touch!

Venice, Padua, Utrecht, Krakow, Warsaw, Grinnell, Pittsburgh, and LA!

Summer 2019 was one of those summers where the timing worked out, but the sanity may have been in question. After teaching year 2 of the DAH Venice/Getty workshop, several of us headed to Padua for a Visualizing Cities Symposium where Cosimo Monteleone and I gave everyone a first glimpse at our plans for Visualizing Lovecraft. I’m very excited to be going back to Padua as a Visiting Scientist in December to continue our work!

We also headed out to Krakow to begin work with Paul Jaskot and other Wired Lab/Visualizing Cities partners. We are thinking about how to visualize the WW2 era Ghetto and Camps, building upon the work we did in Venice around the history of the Ghetto there, but in a very different context and with much more recent materials. A couple of us got further inspiration from the Polin Museum in Warsaw. The question of monuments and memory carries through from Venice but also from the work we have been doing for years with Digital Durham, and which feels a greater sense of urgency given the monument discussions happening in the South.

Next I went to Utrecht where I presented on a VARDHI-related panel with some colleagues from the Institute and other fellow travelers. My talk was about evaluation practices for XR scholarship. Our group will continue to work on this question over the course of the coming year. After that I went to the first ACH conference in Pittsburgh – via Iowa, where I gave a keynote talk on AR at the ACM (Associated Colleges of the Midwest) Symposium on XR in teaching- and then on to Pittsburgh to talk Psychasthenia! (Great new conference from the ACH folks.)

Then finally off to SIGGRAPH 2019 in Los Angeles, where we showcased the Urgency of Reality in a Hyper-Connected Age online exhibition curated by Dena Eber in partnership with the DAC team. As Chair of the ACM SIGGRAPH Digital Arts Community (different ACM! This is the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques), I work in partnership with our brilliant committee and the wider SIGGRAPH Arts community.

While sometimes it can feel a little like whiplash to go from the DH world to the computational media arts and computer graphics worlds, we all share a deep engagement with how the digital turn is transforming how we study, create, analyze, engage, critique. More to come!


Summer 2019 Teaching – DH in Lahore and Venice

In May 2019 Hannah Jacobs and I got to work with some faculty from Pakistan in partnership with colleagues at NCCU, organized by Matt Cook, who works in Postcolonial and South Asian Studies and was one of the co-organizers of the NCCU-Duke DH Fellows program sponsored by the Mellon Foundation. We did some online tutorials (very very early in the morning!) around timeline and mapping tools, and some in-person visits when the group came to campus later in the month. Our NCCU friends also got to go on site to Pakistan to provide intensive mentorship. It was great having a chance to talk to wider community of scholars about DH for teaching and research. It is very satisfying to see to build these world-wide DH connections, and for all of us to learn from each other what is possible within our own communities and beyond!

Then we headed off for year 2 of the Advanced Topics in Digital Art History: 3D (Geo)Spatial Networks institute. It was great to see everyone again, and we did a lot of mutual sharing and peer instruction, as well as read about the state of the art of the DAH landscape. Plus the Night Tour of San Marco! The group will continue to connect beyond the Getty grant period for future collaborations. Several of us are presenting together at CAA 2020 and we are working on plans for some joint publications too.

3D/VR in the Academic Library: Emerging Practices and Trends

Great news – the CLIR report, 3D/VR in the Academic Library: Emerging Practices and Trends is now available! This came out of the Oklahoma symposium I participated in last year. It is exciting to think about how libraries and academic departments and programs can partner on this and other emerging technologies as they get deployed in academic contexts. My own essay, “Collaborative and Lab-Based Approaches to 3D and VR/AR in the Humanities,” talks also about the interdisciplinary lab model as the bridge between the two, drawing upon my experience with various Labs at Duke. Looking forward to seeing how this conversation continues to develop!

Decomposing the Disciplines at Jacobs University

On November 9, 2018 I had the distinct pleasure of returning to Jacobs University  to present during a colloquium called “Bildung Beyond Boundaries, Part II: Beyond the Discipline. Academic Innovations and the Role of Inter and Trans Disciplinarity.” Duke has had a connection to Jacobs for number of years through the Visual Studies Initiative, and I have had the pleasure of serving on 3 PhD committees for students who were enrolled in the innovative VisComX PhD at Jacobs.  My talk was called “How to Decompose Disciplines Best: Project Based Learning with Visualizing Cities.” I really liked the play on “decompose” – which in US English might have a slightly different association than it did for this international audience.  As one does, I went back to the dictionary to think about decomposition in the form of a prism, which gave me an excellent opportunity to bring a rainbow into the conversation!  I was also interviewed for a podcast about the subject.  I really appreciate the international and committed community at Jacobs – a small place doing great things.

Contested Histories and Cultural Heritage at Ursinus College

At the invitation of Associate Dean Meredith Goldsmith, former FHI Fellow, I had the opportunity to visit Ursinus College in PA from October 30-31, where I spoke on “Contested Histories: Cultural Heritage and the Digital Archive” as well as conducted a workshop and got to meet a number of dedicated students.  I had a wonderful time getting to know the campus and the curriculum. As a SLAC grad myself, I retain a special love of the liberal arts college environment.

As a bonus, I got to meet Kara McShane, a fellow alum of the Robbins Library and the Camelot Project at the University of Rochester, who is now a faculty member there!  I credit Robbin Library curator and mentor, Arthurianist Alan Lupack, among others, with the opportunities to develop my digital interests in relation to the humanities way back in the 20th century! Though I’m no longer in an English Department myself, I continue to see a lot of digital innovation on both the teaching and research sides happening in them around the country.