Today marks the beginning of the Rebuilding the Portfolio: DH for Art Historians (#doingdah14 on Twitter) workshop hosted at the Roy Rosenweig Centre for History & New Media. I am unable to attend these proceedings, but luckily there are a steady number of tweets that are keeping me up-to-date with the highlights of what is being discussed.
It’s only been a few hours since this workshop series began, but based on what has been tweeted so far, I can see that there has been a focus on attempting to understand the digital humanities and the digital tools of art history. There have been a few questions that have really peaked my interest such as, “What are the core concepts of art history that make it different from other disciplines?” (tweeted by @sarahObender), “What are the threshold concepts of art history?”, and “How might thinking about threshold concepts of art history change approaches to digital tools and practices?” (tweeted by @celeste_sharpe). I have been struggling with questions like this for quite a while, so I’d be interested to see what the folks at #doingdah14 suggest to answer these questions later on.
One thing I did find interesting was that in a few of the links posted on the Rebuilding the Portfolio: DH for Art Historians website is that there were only a few critical articles on the state of digital art history. The majority of the articles are about the Digital Humanities, digital collections, digital storytelling (through projects, publications or exhibitions), technical art history, and websites of professional communities (see here and here). While these are important aspects of Digital Art History, I am a bit surprised that there are not more articles about critical Digital Art History included.
The focus in Digital Art History at the moment seems to be on creating digital projects, thinking in new ways, and teaching Art Historians about the opportunities in Digital Humanities scholarship, so perhaps we haven’t quite reached the point where we can critically engage with the field of Digital Art History itself just yet–we need to create it first. Perhaps it needs more time to grow, mature, and develop before this self-reflexive engagement can occur? Or maybe critical engagement with Digital Art History can grow in tandem with the field itself?
Ultimately, I think Digital Art History needs more exposure. Workshop series, like “Rebuilding the Portfolio: DH for Art Historians” and similar workshops, are doing important work in making this happening by training Art Historians in Digital Humanities scholarship. This work needs to continue to happen, and also needs to continue within academies across the world to train future generations of Digital Art Historians.
It’ll be interesting to see what is discussed this week through the #doingdah14 hashtag, and how this field grows over the next few years.
My own interests lie in a critical engagement with Digital Art History as a field of research, but I have had difficulty finding much recent critical scholarship in this field as of late. If anyone knows of any books or articles about Digital Art History please comment below or send me a tweet @danutasierhuis