“Images as Data”
This talk tackles images as data in the digital humanities. This visual turn, enabled by a new set of computational methods such as image analysis using computer vision, foregrounds and disputes the logocentrism that has prevailed in digital humanities work over the decades. Abetted by a narrowly construed history of the field, textual computational work has often taken center stage, its longevity propelled by the centrality of particular disciplines to DH. We advocate for a broader role for the image, highlighting the potential of visual resources as the data for analysis and harnessing methods for analyzing images qua images.
The talk is organized around three case studies: (1) Distant Viewing Protest Photography, (2) Photogrammar, and (3) Seeing Incunabula: Text as Image. They demonstrate how computational image analysis combined with institutional commitments to digitization along with inter and trans-disciplinary questions can forge avenues of inquiry in the field. We argue that thinking of images as data opens up a more capacious configuration of sources, evidence, and methods in DH.
Carol Chiodo is the Librarian for Collections and Digital Scholarship at Harvard University Library. Along with her work as the Bibliographer for French, Italian and German, she specializes in the application of digital humanities methods for collection development, access and discovery. She is the principal investigator on Images as Data: Processing, Exploration, and Discovery at Scale, a Mellon-funded collaboration with the Distant Viewing Lab at the University of Richmond. She is the author of Dante’s Volume: From Alpha to Omega (Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Press, 2021). She is the chair of the 700th Anniversary Commemoration Committee for Dante Society of America. Past digital projects include The Yale Community Voices Archive and Dante at Hand. She received her PhD in Italian Language and Literature from Yale University.
Lauren Tilton is Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities in the Department of Rhetoric & Communication Studies and directs the Distant Viewing Lab (distantviewing.org) at the University of Richmond (USA). Her research focuses on analyzing, developing, and applying computational methods to the study of 20th and 21st century documentary expression and visual culture. She is director of Photogrammar (photogrammar.org), a digital public humanities project mapping New Deal and World War II documentary photography funded by the NEH and ACLS, and co-author of Humanities Data in R: Exploring Networks, Geospatial Data, Images and Texts (Springer, 2015). Her scholarship has appeared in journals such as American Quarterly, Digital Humanities Quarterly, and Digital Scholarship in the Humanities. The collaborative digital project Voice of a Nation is forthcoming from Stanford University Press, and the book Distant Viewing with Dr. Taylor Arnold is forthcoming from MIT Press. She serves on the Executive Council of ACH. She received her PhD in American Studies from Yale University.