Projects UvA – 2013

  • Augmenting Masterpieces: interfaces between the physical and digital collection of the Rijksmuseum

    The traditional exhibition setting is a spatial viewing arrangement requiring distance, linear sequences and mobile spectators moving from object to object.  As a result of this static environment, there are many details that the visitor easily overlooks. Especially since the multiple layers of the artworks can only be accessed through intimate acts that are traditionally forbidden: touching, zooming, tapping, rearranging. Digitising the collection – in 2D photographic archives, databases of information and 3D renderings – offers new ways to bypass these restrictions. For that reason, it has become a common practice to augment museums and exhibitions with virtual counterparts and extensions. Developing these kinds of interfaces, however, is both a technological and theoretical challenge. How can digital images be integrated into the museum setting? The design challenge of developing new interfaces poses an urgent theoretical question: how do the cultural techniques of intimate gestures – touch, zooming, tapping, rearranging – affect the experience of visiting the Rijksmuseum? What affordances of the digital can be employed to augment the original masterpieces? The design firms working on the back-end and front-end development of the website and multimedia tour for Rijksmuseum encounter these questions in practice on a daily basis. This research project aims at creating a theoretical framework, formulating existing and desired features, testing user experience, developing prototypes of new interfaces for virtual and physical interaction in the museum context and creating a final product to be used for augmented museum tours.
    This project is a collaboration between Jan Hein Hoogstad (assistant professor Cultural Analysis), and the Rijksmuseum.
  • Sailing Networks: Mapping Colonial Relations with Surinames Seventeenth century Sailing Letters

    In cooperation with Geodan, this project intends both to develop innovative GIS software and to instigate a new method to analyze early modern colonial relations with data from the vast Sailing Letters collection. With data from correspondence, this project aims to develop an interactive online platform which maps the social relations between colonists in Suriname and their contacts in the Dutch Republic in the ‘Disaster Year’ 1672. This way the Sailing Networks project challenges software engineers to explore new ways of representing complex and sometimes incomplete data, as historical reality is invariably too layered and diffuse to be captured in a single-layered model of representation.
    The project intends to inspire further research into the Sailing Letters, as networks from different colonies and periods—such as the Indonesian archipelago and the Antilles in both the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries—can be integrated and compared after successful completion of this pilot. With the developed software, other types of (colonial) networks can be visualized and analyzed applying a similar method. Finally, together with Het Scheepvaartmuseum this project will explore possibilities to use the tool for the public dissemination of maritime and colonial heritage.
    This project is a collaboration between Michiel van Groesen (professor New History), Suze Zijlstra (PHD Early Modern History), Geodan, Het Scheepvaartmuseum, and Mark Opmeer as embedded researcher.
  • Archaeology of Architecture. The presentation and publication of Virtual 3D Reconstructions of Lost Monuments

    Digital techniques and cultural heritage connect in an innovative way new and old within the Humanities. Modern ICT is a major research tool in reconstructing major monuments within their successive phases of creation, function, renovation, and destruction. In addition this technology contributes to present the new knowledge to a wider public in the form of websites, virtual reconstructions and apps. Presentation and publication of virtually reconstructed ancient architecture are, however, not yet fully developed, that is, many virtual reconstructions exist, but there is no format available wherein the different phases of reconstruction may be visualized, nor accounted for in a scientifically accepted manner. And, little or no methods or formats are available to adequately express degrees of accuracy and interpretative steps that led to the final (illustration of the) reconstruction.
    This research project focuses on the investigation and, eventually, the development of  a new, interchangeable format and method to publish digital 3/4D reconstruction of (ancient) architecture and cityscapes, with the reconstruction of two (lost) monuments in Rome as a point of departure.
    This project is a collaboration between Patricia Lulof (Associate Professor of Mediterranean Archaeology)  , Ir. D. Pletinckx, Director Virtual Dimensions bvba, Belgium (co-applicant); M.E. Cohen architect BNA, Director Research Design Systems, Amsterdam and Dr. W.H.M. Hupperetz, Director Allard Pierson Museum, Amsterdam.
    Archeology of Architecture at Kick Off meeting November 11, 2013.
  • Evaluating the Humanities II

    This research is a follow-up to the first Digital Humanities project, “Evaluating the Humanities I” in which we applied for an in-kind SCOPUS data grant from the Elsevier Bibliometrics Programme. Elsevier served as our private industry partner in this earlier project as well as the OCLC-WorldCat® International library catalog. Bibliometric citation data and bibliographic data pertaining to publishers were combined from these two sources to create a unique SCOPUS-WorldCat® relational database.
    In the first project, we exploited selected datasets to study citations to books from the subjects of History and Literary Theory & Criticism, including a network analysis and ranking of their publishers. For the present project – “Evaluating the Humanities II” – our goal is to augment and/or enrich this unique database with ‘altmetrics’ data, that is, ‘alternative forms of metric data’ retrieved from the social Web. The type of ‘altmetric’ data that we have selected are reader review counts and ratings of books from public readership sites (e.g., Amazon; Goodreads), which allow us to measure the concept of public ‘valorization’. The end product of this project will be the statistics that we obtain from combining SCOPUS, WorldCat® and Amazon/Goodreads ratings, using various methods of bibliometric and altmetric analyses. Our aim is to assist university policy makers in the Netherlands, as well as Elsevier, our industry partner, with the development of more relevant, robust measures for use in university-based evaluation programmes for the Humanities.
    This project is a collaboration between Alesia Zuccala (researcher at ILLC), Elsevier Bibliometrics Programme and Spinque.
    Evaluating the Humanities at Kick Off meeting November 11, 2013.
  • Similar Interesting Music APPlication (SIM-APP)

    Similarity in music is a fascinating though complicated concept. Although most people have a clear idea when a piece of music is similar to another, a good formalization of the concept of music similarity does not yet exist. Present software applications in this field (recommendation, playlist generation) are often limited to a single outcome and cannot be influenced by the user. In this project, we will break down the concept of similarity into sub-similarities, and will focus on rhythm-, harmonic-, and melody-contour-similarity, in the restricted domain of electronic dance music. Adding previously defined sub-similarities for timbre and tempo, we will develop an application which has as input a (segment of a) piece of music, and as output a (segment of a) similar piece of music, in accordance with the type of similarity that was specified.
    One of the key features of this app will be that the user has control over its similarity constraints. So the user can navigate along different axes of similarity, depending on the similarity which is desired at that moment. In this way, we expect to learn more about the break-down of the total concept of music similarity into sub-similarities and to be able to start to quantify the contributions of different sub-similarities to the total similarity in the case of dance music. The foreseen application of this project can be used for purposes such as: DJ applications, playlist generation and music discovery.
    This project is a collaboration between Aline Honingh (researcher at ILLC), Elephant Candy  and the embedded researcher is Maria Pantelli.
    SIM-APP at Kick Off meeting November 11, 2013.
  • #Hooked!!! A Game for Uncovering the Mystery of Musical Catchiness!

    What makes music ‘catchy’? Although most listeners have an intuitive sense of catchiness, our scientific understanding of it is surprisingly thin. Working with an embedded researcher at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and the design firm Frontwise, we are developing a music game called Hooked, a game that is designed to serve a clever double purpose: on one hand a musical trivia quiz and on the other hand a scientific experiment to gather data for studying musical catchiness. Inspired by the success of SongPop, we believe this game will yield an unprecedented number of participants for a music experiment, and thereby enable a singularly thorough statistical analysis of the many possible hypotheses surrounding catchiness. Moreover, such wide exposure also invites an epistemological study of what is possible to learn about music culture and music listening from players’ experiences with games. Look for Hooked in Apple’s app store at the end of 2013.
    This project is a collaboration between John Ashley Burgoyne (post doc Music Cognition Group), Henkjan Honing (professor of Cognitive and Computational Musicology), Julia Kursell (professor of Musicology), Sound and Vision, Frontwise and Themistoklis Karavellas as embedded researcher.
  • M.O.C.C.A: Modeling Crowdsourcing for cultural heritage

    In the past decade, cultural heritage institutions around the world have begun to explore the potential of crowdsourcing: using online platforms to employ the help of audiences in core tasks such as collecting, describing, or curating heritage collections. However, while numerous experiments have taken place, we still lack a comprehensive model for determining which types and methods of crowdsourcing are relevant for which specific purposes.
    M.O.C.C.A. aims to develop such a model. Based on the analysis of two current crowdsourcing projects – the ‘Red een portret’ (Save a Portrait) project and the tagging of the Maria Austria photography collection, both hosted at the City Archives of Amsterdam and developed in collaboration with Picturae – the project will balance the various methods of crowdsourcing against the purposes of the heritage institutions, and define a set of conditions and requirements. Such a model is much needed: crowdsourcing will most likely become a permanent feature of the workflow of heritage institutions, creating a need for an efficient employment of these forms of user participation and the further development of the technical and organizational infrastructure it requires.
    The project is a first collaboration within UvA’s new Digital Heritage Lab at the Amsterdam Centre for Cultural Heritage and Identity, between Prof.dr. Julia Noordegraaf (Professor of Heritage and Digital Culture), Ellen Fleurbaay (City Archives of Amsterdam), Ronald Carpentier and Ellen van Noort (Picturae) and Angela Bartholomew as the researcher, with Alexandra Eveleigh (University College London) acting as an advisor.
    M.O.C.C.A. is a collaboration project between CIRCA and the Center for Digital Humanities.-Julia Noordegraaf explains M.O.C.C.A in a short clip of the research priority areas of the UvA.
    M.O.C.C.A. at Kick Off meeting November 11, 2013.