Hestia2 in Stanford: visualising complex data

October 23, 2013

Hestia_logo_whtRemember the Hestia2 event we organised in Southampton in July with The Connected Past? Time for more of that! The Hestia project is pleased to announce its second community event, which will take place at Stanford University on 4-5 November 2013. The two-day workshop, hosted by Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, will tackle the issue of visualizing complex data, and will be of interest to anyone working on network theory and the digital analysis of literature and historical material.

It will include presentations from various local high-tech companies developing complex data analysis and hands-on work with the following humanities projects based in Stanford:
Orbis 2.0, the latest geospatial network model of the ancient world;
Arches, a new open-source geospatial software system for cultural heritage inventory and management;
– Palladio, a new platform for visualizing and analyzing networks of historical data;
– Topotime, a new data model and graphical layout designed specifically to handle the fuzzy temporal bounds and cyclical time of literary narratives.

This two-day event is free for all. We simply ask you to register in advance here.

For more information about the event and about Hestia, please visit our blog.

We look forward to welcoming you in Stanford!

Best wishes

The Hestia2 team

**Hestia2 is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council**


Sessions at TAG 2013: visualisation, anthropology and connectivity

August 30, 2013

logoThis year’s Theoretical Archaeology Group meeting is coming up, and my friends are organising a cool set of sessions there. Sara Perry, Cat Cooper and Gareth Beale are hosting a session called “Seeing, Thinking, Doing: Visualisation as Knowledge Creation”. Their key message is that visualisations are not neutral: they can lie, hide information, or enhance communication of a message. Whatever they do, a critical evaluation of the use of visualisations in archaeology is necessary. I would love to see some infovis and network visualisation studies there! You can read the full abstract below, or visit their blog.

Fiona Coward, Rosie Read and colleagues will chair a session ‘Archaeology and Anthropology: Squabbling siblings, star-crossed lovers or bitter enemies?’. It will discuss the differences between the two disciplines in the past, present and future. See the abstract below.

Two other sessions that got my interest are those by Ben Jervis and colleagues: ‘ANT(ics) and the Thingliness of Things: Actor-Network Theory and other Relational Approaches in Prehistoric and Historical Archaeology’ and ‘It’s All Material Culture, Ain’t It! Connectivity and Interdisciplinarity in Material Culture Studies’.

For more info on TAG 2013 Bournemouth visit their website.

Seeing, Thinking, Doing: Visualisation as Knowledge Creation
Organizers: Gareth Beale (Gareth.Beale@soton.ac.uk), Catriona Cooper (catriona.cooper@soton.ac.uk) & Sara Perry (sara.perry@york.ac.uk)

Decades of enquiry have born witness to the importance of visualisation as a critical methodology in archaeological research. Visual practices are intimately connected to different ways of thinking, shaping not only how we interpret the archaeological record for diverse audiences, but how we actually see and conceive of that record in the first instance (before investigative work has even begun). A growing body of volumes, workshops and symposia* testify to the centrality of visualisation in processes of deduction, narrative construction, theory-building and data collection – all those activities which lie at the heart of the discipline itself. But these testimonials generally still lay scattered and detached, with researchers and visual practitioners often talking at cross-purposes or working in isolation from one another on issues that are fundamentally linked.
Following the success of Seeing, Thinking, Doing at TAG Chicago in May 2013 (http://seeingthinkingdoing.wordpress.com), we seek here to delve further into such issues, concentrating on those bigger intellectual tensions that continue to reveal themselves in discussions of the visual in archaeology. We welcome short papers attending in depth to any of the following five themes:
(1) Realism and uncertainty
(2) Ocularcentrism
(3) Craftspersons and visualisation as craft
(4) Historical forms of, and past trends in, visualisation in archaeology
(5) Innovative approaches to representing the archaeological record
The session will be linked across two continents with a discussant in Canada as well as the main presentations in Bournemouth. We are happy to include speakers willing to participate remotely, via Google Hangout, and we encourage all contributors to add their perspectives to our group blog prior to – and following – the session: http://seeingthinkingdoing.wordpress.com. The papers will be accompanied by a roundtable discussion, where we will analyse the five themes—and related intellectual trends in visualisation—at an overarching level.
*E.g., Molyneaux 1997; Smiles and Moser 2005; Bonde and Houston 2011; “Seeing the Past,” Archaeology Center, Stanford University, Stanford, USA, February 4–6, 2005; “Past Presented: A Symposium on the History of Archaeological Illustration,” Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, DC, October 9–10, 2009; “Visualisation in Archaeology,” University of Southampton, Southampton, UK, April 18–19, 2011.
Bonde, S. & Houston, S. (eds.) 2011. Re-presenting the Past: Archaeology through Image and Text. Oxford: Joukowsky Institute Publications/Oxbow.
Molyneaux, B.L. (ed.) 1997. The Cultural Life of Images: Visual Representation in Archaeology. London: Routledge.
Smiles, S. & Moser, S. (eds.) 2005. Envisioning the Past: Archaeology and the Image. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

‘Archaeology and Anthropology: Squabbling siblings, star-crossed lovers or bitter enemies?’
The relationship between the disciplines of archaeology and anthropology (social/cultural and biological) goes back a long way, but the nature of that relationship has varied hugely over that time. The papers in this session seek to investigate how archaeology and anthropology relate to one another today, academically and professionally, and to debate whether the disciplines should work to come together in future, or contemplate a permanent separation. Does archaeology offer anything to anthropologists, or anthropology to archaeologists? In what areas might closer collaboration be useful? Or have the two disciplines drifted so far apart that no rapprochement is possible or desirable? This session will aim to address these questions from as broad a perspective as possible, including for example papers considering the historical development and/or future trends of the disciplines, the academic or professional relationship between them, case studies demonstrating how the disciplines might benefit (or indeed not benefit) from closer links, or why they should forge their own, more independent identities etc.
All relevant details about the conference can be found here: https://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/tag2013/welcome/. We would like to invite anyone interested in presenting a paper in our session to submit their proposal by September 8th to Fiona Coward: fcoward@bournemouth.ac.uk; Rosie Read: rread@bournemouth.ac.uk or to myself: sschwand@gmail.com.


Getting my hands dirty at the Winchester School of Art

February 28, 2013

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 15.07.37A while ago I joined my Archaeology colleagues on a visit to the Winchester School of Art, our university’s Art campus. We would spend a full day working with the artists there, producing archaeology inspired art. What is archaeology inspired art? I have no idea! It turns out that anything produced by archaeologists would do. So all of us started work on a range of screen-prints and copper etchings. The screen-prints featured an image of our archaeological work, some of us had geophysics maps and others had cave paintings, I decided to use our Connected Past logo designed by Ian Kirkpatrick. I was not very good but my friends and the artists were kind to me. As you can see from the etch in the figure, I really tried to do something artsy with my work but could not really get away from tying everything down to points and lines.

2012-11-30 16.51.40

Overall, it was an exhilarating experience. It really forced me to act quick and make decisions on how to represent my archaeology in an instant. It was more an action-filled trial and error process, completely different to our ‘let’s think long and hard about how to best do this’ process that is so common in the archaeology office. The result was that we got to go home with about twenty prints each! Compared to my normal 20 words-a-day this was probably the most productive day of my life.

I believe we will collaborate more often with the Winchester School of Art in the future and I am really looking forward to it!

You can read a full review of our group’s experience on the SotonDH blog.


Archaeology in the scanner

February 7, 2013

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 14.06.17Southampton made the news last week with some of our scanning work. It turns out we have a massive room-sized scanner (misleadingly called a MICRO-CT scanner) at our imaging centre. It is capable of scanning stuff with a resolution of less than 0.1mm and given its size it can do this for quite big objects. Our Archaeological Computing Research Group could not wait to get their hands on this new toy, and collaborated with the British Museum to scan a large cauldron excavated at Chiseldon. The cauldron itself is actually not excavated since it is too fragile. Instead, the archaeologists lifted the big find encased in its soil matrix to preserve it until technologies come along that can tell us more about this fragile find. It seems that this time has now come! With this scanner the archaeologists were able to explore the cauldron by looking through the earth layers without excavating it.

Have a look at the video and read the article on the BBC website.


Cytoscape plugins

November 21, 2012

The authors of Cytoscape, a software platform for the analysis and visualisation of networks, have just published an overview of Cytoscape plugins in Nature Methods. Although many of these plugins might be most relevant for biological networks, there might be some original and useful Humanities applications to be developed as well. The overview covers 152 plugins, that should be plenty for the more creative among us to explore and play around with.

Cytoscape is open-source software for integration, visualization and analysis of biological networks. It can be extended through Cytoscape plugins, enabling a broad community of scientists to contribute useful features. This growth has occurred organically through the independent efforts of diverse authors, yielding a powerful but heterogeneous set of tools. We present a travel guide to the world of plugins, covering the 152 publicly available plugins for Cytoscape 2.5–2.8. We also describe ongoing efforts to distribute, organize and maintain the quality of the collection.


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