This year at the University of Iowa the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences, and the Museum of Natural History will host GIS Day activities on Wednesday, November 20 and Thursday November 21.
Beginning on November 20th from 1-3 PM, the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences invites you to stop by for refreshments during their Open House in the state-of-the-art GIS Instructional Laboratory (GISIL), 243 Jessup Hall. There you can see demos of ongoing projects involving geographic information systems (GIS) technology including:
- Using GIS for cancer mapping
- Addressing heat hazards with support from GIS
- Hydrologic and land use modeling using remote sensing and GIS
- Automatic extraction and mapping of spatial information from text documents
- 3D point cloud visualization of campus buildings using our new terrestrial LiDAR scanner
Then on Thursday November 21 starting at 7 PM, plan to visit Museum of Natural History in Macbride Hall for a GIS-themed version of the museum’s UI Explorers Seminar Series. Three presentations will highlight how GIS technologies are transforming Urban and Regional Planning, Geospatial Humanities, and Sustainability Studies.
- Rick Havel – Johnson County GIS Coordinator. Geodesign: the use of GIS in urban and regional planning.
- Colin Gordon – Professor, University of Iowa Department of History. Digital Johnson County: an on-line platform for archiving historical geospatial data and imagery.
- Adam Skibbe - GIS Administrator, University of Iowa Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences. Where, and when, the buffalo roam: Using GPS to track bison through the tallgrass prairie.
Contact Sarah Horgen for more information about the Museum of Natural History event, 319-335-0606
Last week, Paul Dilley, Professor of Classics and Religious Studies, discussed how digital humanities and new technologies have changed methods of reading and translating ancient works.
His work focuses on Mani, a man Dilley describes as the “Christian Arch-Heretic,” his time spent at the Persian Court, and more specifically, an ancient text called Mani’s Kephalaia. Using techniques such as multispectral photography, Dilley and his colleagues have been able to alter scans of the text, which is illegible to the naked eye, to enhance contrast and make the faded text appear more visible. He continued by discussing his work on the Red Monastery, an ancient Christian monastery in Egypt where he is translating inscriptions on the monastery’s walls. He plans on creating a database to make these inscriptions and images open to the public.
Join us this Thursday 12:30-1:30 PM, 1117 University Capitol Centre, Conference A to listen to Christopher Hopkins, Professor of Music at Iowa State University, discuss his work in applying design tools for virtual reality to the arts.
I am a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Religious Studies, where I study Secon-Temple Judaism, Early Christianity, and Biblical Studies. At the Studio, I am involved in two projects related to the ancient Mediterranean world: “Digi-Tel Azekah,” under the direction of Robert R. Cargill, and “Early Christian Art and Inscriptions of Egypt and Nubia,” led by Paul Dilley.
With Digi-Tel Azekah, I work with Cale Staley (a fellow graduate student in Religious Studies) to produce 3D models of Tel Azekah, an archaeological site in Israel situated about 30 miles west of Jerusalem. Dr. Cargill, Cale, and I participate every summer in the Lautenschläger Azekah Expedition, along with other faculty and students from the University of Iowa and an international team of students and researchers.
(Anyone can participate in the excavation as part of Iowa’s team. If you’d like information on joining the expedition, contact Dr. Cargill.)
After each excavation season, we take CAD drawings, GPS data, and topographical plans of the site and produce 3D reconstructions of the excavation using Presagis Creator and Trimble SketchUp. These models can be viewed with Google Earth and will be unveiled on November 25 at the Society of Biblical Literature conference in Baltimore.
Lastly, to help foster public engagement in archaeology, I teach people—both students and non-students—how to build 3D models of buildings and archaeological sites for inclusion in Google Earth. This is the part of the project I enjoy the most, as it enables people of all ages and walks of life to learn about the history of a city and the relationship between architecture and everyday life.
With Early Christian Art and Inscriptions of Egypt and Nubia, I work alongside graduate students from the Department of Classics and the School of Art and Art History, producing an online database of social data from Christian Egypt and Nubia. This data includes a variety of sources—such as frescoes, inscriptions, and graffiti from ancient churches—in Greek, Coptic, and Old Nubian.
I work as an editor and translator for the project. To begin with, I take a published volume of Greek and Coptic inscriptions and transcribe them in a text editor. Then, I correct and edit each inscription on the basis of photographs and other published editions, and encode the corrected inscription in EpiDoc, a form of TEI specifically tailored for ancient manuscripts and inscriptions. Finally, I translate each inscription into English.
Ultimately, the goal of this project is to provide a much-needed resource for the study of Christianity in the Egyptian world, along the lines of sites like the Duke Data Bank of Documentary Papyri. Until now, anyone wishing to do research in this field has needed access to specialized libraries, but our site will give the public easy access to important primary sources related to the development and spread of Christianity.
In all, I am excited about the work my fellow researchers and I are doing with Digi-Tel Azekah and Early Christian Art and Inscriptions of Egypt and Nubia. Both of these projects present important developments in their field, and both of them make scholarship accessible to the public sphere.
In 2008, UNESCO designated Iowa City as a City of Literature for its history and the accomplishments of the writers it has produced over the years. Just looking at the commitment the University makes in supporting the Writing program speaks volumes to the dedication to continuing the legacy of producing excellent writers. To celebrate and raise awareness of Iowa City’s status as a City of Literature, I was brought on-board to help develop a game utilizing the City of Lit database compiled over the past few years.
The first thing I had to do was decide on the goal of the activity; what did I want to accomplish at the end of all this and what would constitute as a success from a developer’s point of view? To me, if people were able to say they had a good time and learned something after playing my game, I would be satisfied.
I wanted to take the players around town and immerse them in the City of Literature by having them experience it first-hand; I did not want them stationary or just inside a building learning about it. I wanted to take them around town and let them see the sights in person. This dictated the nature of the game from the get-go: it would be an outdoor activity, centered around locations.
At this point, it becomes important to make sure there is an identity for the game. There needed to be a clear distinction between how the game is different than just a guided tour. The goal is to present the City of Literature in an interactive manner to further immerse people in the experience. To design the game, it was critical to put myself in the shoes of the player; under what conditions would I have the most fun? Would I be gaining enjoyment value from the knowledge or directly from experiencing the activity? As reference, I looked at Geocaching and Orienteering to learn of the nature of outdoor activities. What made those games fun? What makes people want to partake in the activity? These are all fundamental questions that gave insight to how the City of Lit. game should be developed.
It’s a rather cumbersome chain, but the design process at this point heavily involved working backwards to determine who the target audience would be. A lot of the information gathered involved personal experience as an out-of-state student who came to Iowa for the first time one year ago, as well as feedback from others. It was decided that the experience would be most enjoyable for newcomers to Iowa City and it would be excellent to have them learn about the town through this game as an added bonus. Once the target audience was selected, it becomes much easier to tailor the game to specifications and make sure the rest of the game design does not stray too far off the path.
All of this was just the foundation work for designing the game, considering I still have to develop the actual game itself. However, all these variables are things that are bound to be important down the road.
This week Colleen Theisen, Outreach and Instruction Librarian, discussed the potential of different media platforms for expanding the audience for Special Collections, specifically focusing on Tumblr and YouTube.
Theisen aims to break the stereotype that Special Collections is inaccessible and boring by connecting with people via social media platforms and presenting the collections in original and artistic ways, including GIFs and photographs. Tumblr is particularly useful for Special Collections due to its emphasis on aesthetics, and the tag system it uses to organize posts by interests, making content easy to find for users. Due to the blogging backbone of Tumblr, posts never disappear, and often return to users’ dashboards after a few months. “A post is never forgotten, only dormant,” says Theisen. YouTube offers interesting opportunities for presenting collections as well by allowing the librarians to add their personalities to the seemingly impersonal books as seen on their YouTube series, Staxpeditions.
Join us next week to hear Paul Dilley, Professor of Classics and Religious Studies, discuss the production of e-texts of ancient inscriptions from 12:30-1:30 PM at 1117 University Capitol Centre in Conference Room A.
We are in the midst of developing an online digital exhibit of the Fluxus West art collection.The Fluxus art collection, which was donated by Ken Friedman, is held in the University of Iowa Special Collections and consists of objects like watercolors, flyers for events/performances, sketches, photography, games, boxes for your finger to poke around in, jars of dead things, bags of hair, and general detritus one would find in the home. It is a rather eclectic collection, the result of a band of artists who continued to question ‘what is art?’ Fluxus is very much the Dada of its day, it challenges and pokes fun at our general sense of art and aesthetics and now, we are digitizing it. We knew digitizing Fluxus was going to be a huge undertaking but of course we ticked the ‘yes’ box. This was a chance we could not pass up.
I am one of a team working to create the Fluxus Digital Collection. The process to digitize Fluxus involves the University of Iowa Special Collections, the Libraries’ Preservation/Conservation departments, the department of Digital Research and Publishing, and The Studio for Digital Public Arts & Humanities (The Studio for short). This endeavor is a collaborative effort that requires nimble thinking and adaptability for no one work is exactly the same, and each object presents a new challenge. The collection is constantly challenging us to be creative and flexible in our approach and expectations, and to pull what resources we have at hand to create something new. Who knew the digitization process could be as Fluxus-y as the art collection…
Since a solid portion of the art collection is non-manuscript three dimensional objects, I was brought on to experiment with ways to capture and present those artifacts, especially their 3-dimensionailty, online. With a combination of photography, 2D and 3D scanning as well as audio and video, we hope the physicality of the objects is well represented.
In addition to the challenges we face creating digital representations of the objects, we grappled with the notion that some artifacts in the collection may not have been part of the original work. What is the art? There have been several discussions about whether cotton balls were in fact part of the work, or just packing material to stabilize a work’s contents. I have never spent so long contemplating the meaning of cotton balls. Nor have I shaken my head, mystified, that a HUGE dust bunny is considered part of the art collection. But that’s just it, Fluxus was meant to be playful, to mystify. And as a response, some cotton balls are included, and you can view the biggest dust bunny you have ever seen in our online collection.
You should really come see it for yourself. Reading about it just does not do it justice. If you are not able to come to the University of Iowa Special Collections located in the Main Library, keep an eye out for the online Fluxus Digital Collection (coming soon). This is going to be a long term project by the Libraries, Dr. Stephen Voyce, and The Studio and will be evolving and growing over the next year. I am so excited for it, this has been a wonderfully fun project to work on and sometimes brings out the childish playfulness in us.
Last week, Peter Chanthanakone, Professor of animation, showed his process for creating animated short films and the people he collaborated with on these projects. He focused mainly on 3D animation and the things that inspired him. He said, “Pretty much anything I like goes into my films,” made evident by his short films, where creatures such as hopping dolphins and walking Christmas trees are welcome.
He described a workshop he led in Laos, where the students all told a childhood memory and then chose their favorite to fully realize. The result was “Chasing Grasshoppers,” a short animated film about a boy and his friend in a contest to catch the most grasshoppers. Chanthanakone continued by discussing and showcasing a few of his short films, as well as original renders in Maya of some of the environments. He talked about his collaborations with the RiFF Animation Studio in Bangkok, a small animation studio he heralded for its wide variety of style and fun atmosphere.
Join us tomorrow, 12:30-1:30pm, 1117 University Capitol Centre, Conference Room A, to hear Jesse McLean discuss the effect digital media has on information concerning celebrities.
Friday, Nov. 8, The Studio and the Department of English are pleased to host guest speaker Julie Napolin, Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at Eugene Lang College, The New School for Liberal Arts. Dr. Napolin addresses the speculative territory of digital cartography in a moment when the digital humanities are re-mapping our literary encounters. Napolin describes how the UVA “Digital Yoknapatawpha” project, of which she is Associate Director, is addressing the theoretical and practical challenges of transforming narrative into data, and then visualizing that data in a digital map.
This talk will be held Friday, Nov 8, at 4:00 p.m. in Gerber Lounge, EPB 3rd floor. We hope to see you there!
This will be the first in a series of posts by students and scholars working on a variety of exciting projects in The Digital Studio for Public Arts and Humanities this semester.
I am a first-year student in the University of Iowa’s School of Library and Information Science, and I have a graduate research assistant appointment at The Studio. I am a Contributing Editor for the Walt Whitman Archive and the Associate Editor of Whitman’s fiction.
My current work is part of the Walt Whitman Archive’s new project, which focuses on Whitman’s writings before the publication of his first edition of Leaves of Grass in 1855. Although Whitman is perhaps best known for his poetry and his volunteer work in the Civil War hospitals, he was a journalist and a fiction writer in his native New York in the 1840s. In 1842, at the age of twenty-three, he published his only novel entitled, Franklin Evans, or the Inebriate: A Tale of the Times. It was printed as a special extra edition of a newspaper called the New World, and even though it is rarely read or taught today, Franklin Evans was very popular among nineteenth-century readers. It sold approximately 20,000 copies, which is more than any other work that Whitman published in his lifetime. Even so, the poet himself (late in his life) referred to the novel as “rot of the worst sort” and claimed to have written it in three days with the “help of a bottle of port.”
Rot or not, the novel focuses on young Franklin Evans who moves from a rural community to New York City, where he soon begins frequenting the city’s barrooms to drink with his new friends. It details his adventures and exploits in New York, and later in the South. However, I do not want to spoil the plot of the novel for you since I hope you will soon be able to access the full text on the Walt Whitman Archive.
With the goal in mind, therefore, I have been working on the transcription and TEI encoding for Franklin Evans. I am new to the guidelines and the preparation of TEI encoded texts, but I have learned so much about the process already from the project manager and my colleagues. In fact, I have just finished the encoding of the novel, and I anticipate that the text might be available on the Walt Whitman Archive as soon as the end of 2013.
After Franklin Evans is added to the site, I will begin encoding Whitman’s short fiction. Between 1841 and 1848, Whitman published at least twenty-two short fiction works. All of these stories were originally published in newspapers or magazines, and most appeared for the first time in The United States Magazine and Democratic Review—a prestigious literary journal that also published major nineteenth-century American authors, including Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Despite its appearance in the Democratic Review, there has been little evidence (until now) to suggest that Whitman’s fiction was popular or that it was copied by editors and reprinted in other newspapers or magazines. My research has shown, however, that these short stories were actually read and circulated widely among nineteenth-century readers and were reprinted across the United States and in places as far away as Tasmania (then Van Diemen’s Land) as early as 1846! For the past three years, I have been using online archives and periodical databases to search for reprints of Whitman’s short stories. I have found more than 250 previously unknown reprints of Whitman’s fiction, and my bibliography of these newly discovered reprints was recently published in the Spring 2013 issue of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.
In the future, visitors to the Walt Whitman Archive will not only be able to read Whitman’s short fiction, but they will also be able to examine page images of each of the reprints. They will be able to see the stories in the newspapers and magazines in which nineteenth-century readers first encountered them and compare those reprinted versions to the original publication. I hope that, as a result, they will better understand how and where Whitman’s fiction circulated and how nineteenth-century readers read and received his novel and each of these early short stories by the writer who would become known as America’s poet.
Eric Zimmer, PhD candidate in History, discussed the digitization of his project the History Corps. The graduate students running this project interview members of the university and the community and post these online, giving exposure to scholars and their projects. The digitization of the History Corps led to more exposure and more opportunities for projects, including a photo essay on the 2008 flood.
Zimmer explained the process the History Corps used to grow from a single page to a multi-tab website. “Often people have great ideas, but don’t know how to make them happen,” he said. He laid out the pipeline he used to receive support for his project, which consisted of networking, filling out paperwork, and digging for resources. To keep projects around for years to come, he said to think about how projects can be useful for future generations. He plans to broadens the History Corps reach from Iowa to the entire Midwest.
Join us this week on October 24 at 12:30 PM in Conference Room A in 1117 University Capitol Centre to hear Peter Chanthanakone, Professor of Animation, discuss the ins and outs of creating animated short films.
This week Chuck Swanson from Hancher talked about Hancher’s influence on the community and campus. He talked only a little about the new Hancher building that’s to be finished in 2016, saying that Hancher is more than a building: “Hancher is a mindset.”
Swanson focused on the projects Hancher coordinated, all involving immense collaboration between different people from different fields, such as artists and actors working with medical students and engineers. The goal of Hancher is to present difficult ideas in creative ways to encourage understanding to a wide audience. An example Swanson described was a production focusing on Alzheimer’s awareness called The Broken Chord that Hancher presented last spring. Collaborating with Working Group Theatre, the people involved looked at research and personal stories to create this work. Other projects focused on flood awareness and bullying awareness. “Hancher is one of the largest classrooms on campus,” Swanson said, and it seems the most creative and effective one too.
Join us next week on October 17 at 12:30 PM in Conference Room A in 1117 University Capital Centre to welcome Eric Zimmer, PhD candidate in History, as he describes the process the History Corps shifted to a new WordPress site and how other scholars can easily jump into digital mediums.
Three film pieces completed by Graduate Students enrolled in the Film and Video Production MFA program are currently showing as part of the University of Iowa Museum of Art Video Classroom screening series, programmed this fall by Assistant Professor Jesse McLean. These three works were created in a course dedicated to the workshop process. Students work all semester on a single, self-directed project. The work is critiqued in various stages as the work grows and takes shape.
Stop by in either the IMU or the Studio Arts building and check out their amazing work!
When and where:
October 11 – November 11 (Films will be showing on a continuous loop, so come by any time!)
Studio Arts Building, 1375 Highway 1 West, 1840 SA
UIMA@IMU Visual Classroom, 125 North Madison St., Iowa City
About the films
So It Will Be by Gabrielle McNally
An exploration of legacy, history, autobiography, the archiving of the self, and memory through the stories of the artist’s relatives Ona Mahitta Rounds and Robert Lewis McNally, and the artist herself.
HD Video, TRT 17:26 min.
Maria by Katarzyna Plazinska
External and internal forces quietly struggle against one other in this enigmatic portrait of dislocation.
HD Video, TRT 11:48 min.
Slow Lighting by Charles Woodard
A document of two times and two places, brought together through shared moments, writings, and trees.
HD Video with mixed formats, TRT 17:01 min.