[NetBehaviour] [spectre] post-doc grant programme (blocked postings)

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Fri Sep 5 01:25:20 CEST 2014


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On 03/09/14 11:24 AM, Joel Weishaus wrote:
> Rob;
> 
> Is there a link to this story?

- From my "Links" the other day:

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/902625-computers-can-find-similarities-between-paintings-but-art-history-is-about-so-much-more/

The article starts out as a valid if obvious criticism of a Digital
Humanities project that finds visual similarities between scanned
images of paintings. The project demonstrates a useful
defamiliarization and investigation technique, but obviously isn't
without limitations. Visual similarities may not always be caused by
direct *influence* between works in a small database. There may be a
third common ancestor external to the database or there may be
cultural or physical influences or constraints at play for example.

The article then goes off the deep end a bit by framing the digital
humanities project as a "connoisseurial" approach to art that fails to
follow the political programme of current academic art history,
thereby defending the evils of "the canon" and "the art market". In
contrast to connoisseurial approaches, current academic art history
isn't about *looking* at art. It's about giving voice to what has
historically been excluded from the canon, the market, and art history
itself.

But valorizing works that were previously excluded from the canon and
the market will make them more appealing for inclusion in the canon
and the market...

There's less difference and more opportunity here than might appear.
Both digital art history and current academic art history are gnostic
ideologies, ways of not seeing. The former uses machine vision, the
latter the canons of critical theory.

If academic art history really wants to move beyond the canon and the
market, rather than expand or merely recenter them, it needs to deal
in *populations* of works. This is something that digital humanities
approaches can do. I believe that the political programme of the
former has more to gain from the technical programme of the latter
than vice versa.
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