Dragos Gheorghiu and Georgina Jones – Imaging and illustrating the archaeological record
Doctoral School, National University of Arts, Bucharest, RO. & Bournemouth University, UK.
The problems created by the limits of the representation of the archaeological record in archaeology lead to the discovery of art as a potential source of inspiration and refinement of the hermeneutical discourse. Due to its possibility to use symbolic thinking, art could become a tool to approach the reality of the Past, functioning on the principle of analogy like experimental archaeology or ethno-archaeology.
Nevertheless the subject is still in its infancy, both at theoretical and applicative level.
The present paper (the result of a collaboration between an archaeologist-experimentalist and a graphic designer) discusses, from an applicative perspective, the uses of art as instrument to improve the archaeological imagination and to illustrate the Past, from the reconstruction of the objects to that of human agency.
***POSTER*** Imagining and illustrating the archaeological record
Chiara Zuanni – Displaying, Viewing and Making Meaning of Archaeology in Museums: Professional and Public Perspectives
Chiara obtained a degree in Classics and a master degree in Archaeology from the University of Bologna, and is currently a PhD student at the Centre for Museology, at the University of Manchester. Her PhD research investigates how the museum mediates archaeology, and how all the diverse interpretations and narratives of archaeology presents in the public sphere contribute to influence museum visitors’ experiences and understanding.
Museums use a wide range of visual tools for the mediation of archaeology to different audiences. This poster discusses how visualisations are used in researching and communicating archaeology in the museum; how these visualisations fit into the exhibition and relate to the objects on display; and how museum visitors understand these outputs.
The analysis relies on a research carried out in the Manchester Museum, which has focused on the curatorial approaches to the redevelopment of the archaeology galleries and on a subsequent visitor study. Interviews with museum professionals and visitors have highlighted the various approaches to the exhibits and to different visual tools used in the galleries.
The influence of specific visual tools on professional researches, curatorial practices and visitors’ interpretations is discussed in relation to the examples of facial reconstructions and images based on the CT scanning of mummies, which are used both for research and communication purposes. The acknowledgement of the different ways facial reconstructions and CT scanning have been presented to the public since the 1970s allows looking also at the history of these visualisations and their reception, and debating how the development of new visualisation tools has opened up new possibilities for the interpretation of the archaeological record and changed the expectations of museum audiences.
Tomasz Michalik – Visual mind. Perception and knowledge creation in archaeology – eye-tracking study report
Tomasz Michalik graduated from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan in archaeology and cognitive science. Currently he is a PhD student at interdisciplinary programme Language, Society, Technology and Cognition realized at the Faculty of English. His research is related to the problem of how different types of archaeological data influence the process of creating knowledge about the past. He applied methods used in cognitive science to analyse visual and languages representations of the past produced by archaeologist.
The development of knowledge relies not only on technological advances, but also on the understanding of the process of knowledge creation. Although there is no doubt that archeology has significantly developed in technical aspects over the last few decades, it seems that there is still too little attention paid to the understanding of the cognitive processes involved in archaeological data perception and analysis.
The main aim of this presentation is to reflect on the problem of the relation between archaeological data and the ways they are perceived and interpreted by archaeologists in the process of knowledge production. The main research question concerns the problem of the impact of prior knowledge on the perception of the photographs and the recognition of archaeological features.
This poster contains the results of the eye-tracking study of the processing of aerial photographs by two groups – archaeology students (“experts”), who completed the “aerial photography” course, and cognitive science students (“non-experts”). In the presentation, the differences in visual attention between the two groups, as well as error analysis of the results and strategies of archaeological objects detection, will be discussed. The preliminary results show that knowledge influences both high and low levels of processing of aerial photographs and that there is a cognitive gap between visual and language representations of the archaeological concepts, which may cause misinterpretation.
***POSTER*** Visual Mind
Judith Dobie – Bringing Back the Bodies
Judith Dobie studied at The Glasgow School of Art and has worked since in archaeological illustration with The Department of Ancient Monuments and English Heritage.
The earth at Mucking, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery site in Essex overlooking the estuary of the river Thames is acidic, organic material rarely survives. Bodies are reduced to a shadow in the soil. Sometimes, when this is the case archaeological reports can be austere, lacking colour and human interest, concentrating naturally on the pottery, glass and metal objects which survive. This talk explains how by illustration, the artist and authors, working together, tried to address this imbalance to reconstruct the clothes and appearance and possessions of the vanished people of Mucking.
**POSTER** Mucking Web Poster X3
Damien Campbell-Bell – The Epistemology of Archaeological Perception
Damien Campbell-Bell is a PhD student at the University of Southampton, whose research looks to assess the validity of visuo-spatial approaches to landscape archaeology through the use of underutilised psychological literature and ecological fieldwork experiments. He previously worked in commercial archaeology and is now involved in teaching fieldwork skills to undergraduates. His other research interests include the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, monumentality and archaeological practice.
Archaeologists are predominantly realists; they work on the premise that we can use our senses to learn real information about the remains of the past. Whilst this is a stance which must be adopted to say anything meaningful about the evidence we collect, when it comes to constructing narratives about the past, the validity of our perceptions are called into question. This work explores the relationship between perception and archaeological knowledge creation, especially the use of vision in landscape studies.
Archaeological interpretations are built up from data which has been collected through an act of perception in the present, and to apply this data in the creation of narratives about the past we rely on a number of assumptions. One of these, which is often left unmentioned, is that people in the past perceived in the same way as people today. Some perceptual theorists suggest that visual perception is mentally mediated (see Bruner, 1957; Gregory, 1980; Robinson, 2001) and thus culturally constituted however, making our attempts to understand archaeological remains in the same way as those who created them destined to fail. Whilst a number of archaeologists have commented on this issue (see for example Johnson, 2007; Thomas, 2001; Tilley, 2004), few have sought to find a resolution to it. This work thus critiques the current epistemological state of archaeology, and drawing on visual and cross-cultural perception literature, proposes one possible way in which its problems may be overcome. This involves an archaeological perceptual investigation aimed at determining the extent/existence of the potential perceptual gap between cultures of the past and present. Finally, the potential outcomes of this work will be discussed, along with their consequences for archaeology as a whole, and the resulting opportunities for future research.
Bruner, J. S. (1957) On Perceptual Readiness Psychological Review vol. 64 pg 123-152
Gregory, R. L. (1980) Perception as Hypotheses Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B, 290 pg 181-197
Johnson, M. (2007) Ideas of Landscape Blackwell Publishing Oxford
Robinson, H. (2001) Perception Routledge London
Thomas, J. S. (2001) Archaeologies of Place and Landscape In Hodder, I. (ed.) Archaeological Theory Today Blackwell Publishers Ltd Oxford pg 165-186
Tilley, C. (2004) The materiality of Stone: Explorations in Landscape Phenomenology Berg Publishers New York
Katrina Foxton – Images within the Web: Considering the institutional use of digital images of heritage and the opportunity (and consequences) of public interaction.
Katrina has recently graduated from her Masters at York in Cultural Heritage Management, where she began applying visual culture and material culture theories to the study of postcards of heritage landscapes. Her recent work on postcards, in the form of a review of a group session organised by Archaeologists Anonymous, can be accessed here (http://archanon.tumblr.com/SHA2013).
In its constant expansion and infiltration into social practice, the Internet has also exploded images into our lives (Banks 2007, Rose 2012). And within heritage management, websites designed by/for institutions are no longer complete without visual media which are often used as platforms to engage the public. But what are the consequences of such management and what are its effects on the public’s interaction with heritage? Do the discussions of Appadurai (2010, cited in Harrison) mean that, within a social mediascape, images of heritage on the Internet are a selected through exclusive popularity, prompted by the visual ‘nudges’ of institutional agendas (Waterton 2010)? If this is so, how can the visualisation of heritage online result in “organic” and complex community discussions (Affleck and Kvan 2008, Crouch 2010)? In short, how does the institutional management of online images restrict or develop the experience of heritage for the public?
In my recent research I examined one particular website which had originally been designed for the purpose of selling digitised postcards depicting a variety of images of Britain produced by Francis Frith and Sons, 1898-1970. Although the website was at first solely constructed as a sales forum, customers began independently sending their memories of the landscapes/urbanscapes to the management team who have since added a ‘memory sharing’ application to the website. After this, the level of community interaction with the images expanded dramatically and memories continue to be shared. My question is; while the website is overtly a sales environment with all manner of marketing ‘nudges’, how does a community interaction (personal and sentimental in many cases) continue to exist? I believe the answer lies in many different possibilities (for example, general Internet behaviour, the specific design of the Francis Frith website, and the particular content of the images), but it is the complex relationship between the institution, the visualised heritage and the public that needs particular attention. An understanding of this relationship will have ramifications on the way that heritage managers and archaeologists use images to engage the public with heritage.
**POSTER: Images in Web PDF
References: Images in the Web References
Emilio Santiago – Sovereign Mountains: Panoptic Moiety in the Post-Chacoan Northern Rio Grande
Emilio Alejandro Santiago is a graduating senior at Columbia University. He has conducted fieldwork in the Western Desert of Egypt, but his research focuses on ancestral Puebloan groups in the Northern Rio Grande of New Mexico. Find him on Academia.edu at http://columbia.academia.edu/EmilioSantiago
Recent investigations at the El Bosque Site in the Embudo Valley, New Mexico, raise new questions about the evolution of moiety organization in the northern Rio Grande Valley. The El Bosque Site is a previously unrecorded large 13th century village with hundreds of multi-story rooms organized into a dual division that is similar to, but more complex than, the dual organization at nearby Pot Creek Pueblo. In addition to a pattern of dual division on site, it is apparent that the village was settled either to gaze at, or to be gazed upon by prominent features in the surrounding landscape.
A phenomenological approach to observations on site reflects that certain landforms are always visible, and these viewsheds were privileged in the process of site settlement. Detailed recordings of viewsheds from different points on site and from the surrounding shrine network suggest that the Towa é spirits residing on Tsikomo (Chicoma Peak) and Ku Sehn Pin (Truchas Peak) were gazing at the people of the El Bosque Site. Or perhaps, it was the landform itself. Here, I report on Columbia University’s recent research at El Bosque, considering the implications of the site for our understanding of the origins of Eastern Pueblo moieties, and thinking about a life of Spiritual Surveillance.
Kilchor Fabienne – Data Architecture of Excavation Documentation Using the Methods of Knowledge Visualisation
University of Bern
Fabienne Kilchör graduated in Visual Communication from the University of Art and Design in Geneva (HEAD) in 2006.
She is co-founder and project manager of the design agency Emphase GmbH (Emphase Ltd.), working in the field of Visual Communication and Information Design.
Since 2010 she has been teaching Information Design as well as organizing workshops within the field of Data Structuring at the HEAD-Geneva.
During 2008 and 2011 Fabienne Kilchör initiated and led several research projects at the Bern University of the Arts and Applied Sciences as a research assistant. Her field of research is primarily focused on Communication Design of Knowledge Visualization and Culture Heritage Visualization.
2012 Fabienne received a three year research fund from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF/FNS). The PhD-thesis entitled “Data Visualization of Excavation Documentation Using the Methods of Knowledge Visualization ” is embedded at the Institute of Archaeological Sciences, Department of Near Eastern Archaeology.
The interdisciplinary exchange between the Institute of Archaeological Sciences and the Bern University of the Arts and Applied Sciences (Research Area: Communication Design) is being carried out within the framework offered by the Bern Graduate School of the Arts.
Finds and architectural structures of an archaeological excavation site are recorded with different techniques and documented in a database. After excavation, this data is then transferred into visual models by means of archaeological graphic principles intended to facilitate their evaluation and to support subsequent publication. Fundamental ordering procedures such as the depiction of stratigraphic interrelations or the presence/absence matrix employ abstraction, but this neither reduces complexity nor increases comprehensibility, instead merely allowing a limited comparability of the facts.
The present research project aims to contribute to this debate by developing new instruments of knowledge visualization in the documentation of archaeological findings that should enable us to comprehend complex relations quicker and more intuitively.
Documentation strategies in archaeology lag behind general developments in historiography, where the trend has shifted away from the observation of individual artefacts and towards the investigation of cultural connections. Context-relevant data in particular is not recorded subtly or clearly enough with the visual means available today. Instead, it is recorded in multi-track notation systems that are often confusing, even to experts. As in the case of the Harris matrix, seriation – an archaeologist’s instrument for understanding archaeological find and structures – also offers immense potential above and beyond its original function by conveying information to the expert reader or even to the general reader through popular publications. However, this potential remains completely untapped.
Notation systems play an important role in archaeology. By being excavated, artefacts are removed from their original context, and by being transcribed they acquire a new signs system. However, this makes reconstruction more difficult, and problems of interpretation arise. An approach to the archaeological material that is based on semiotics and communication theory may offer promising perspectives. Thus alternative data visualizations will be created from the viewpoint of communication design, then tested and further developed in an interdisciplinary collaboration.