For the past four months, Cat Cooper and I – with the help of our great friend and colleague Gareth Beale – have been putting together a multi-site session for TAG USA Chicago on ‘Seeing, Thinking, Doing: Visualisation as Archaeological Research’. Finally our planning culminates on Friday, when the session will run at 9.00am Chicago time, 3pm GMT. We’ve got our fingers crossed that the technology holds up…
I think we were all overwhelmed by the response we received to our call for papers – so much so that we’ve devised various means to allow as many people as possible to contribute to the conversation. Whilst we can only steam the event between Chicago, Southampton, San Diego, and Victoria Canada (where I’ll be remotely helping to chair the session), we have
(1) set up a Twitter account (@visualarchaeo)
(2) Cat has put together a blog (http://seeingthinkingdoing.wordpress.com – & here you can find details of our diverse contributors)
(3) we’ve created a digital poster accompaniment to the session for some of those who weren’t able to give talks (see the posters & their abstracts here)
(4) we’ve put together a series of discussion questions that we’re hoping anyone with an interest in the subject matter will comment upon either via our blog (comment here) or by tweeting us at @visualarchaeo. We’d like to keep the debate going beyond the conference, so please do contribute!
Our discussion questions are prompted by the fact that various initiatives in recent years (including the recently-completed, English Heritage-sponsored Visualisation in Archaeology (VIA) project) have testified to a series of tensions and challenges confronting those who engage with archaeological visualisation. We would like to consider to what extent you find yourself negotiating with these issues, how you’ve worked to manage them, and where you see visualisation practice (in the sense of producing, circulating, receiving, and remixing visual media) taking both archaeologists themselves and general archaeological audiences in the future.
- What do you consider the biggest challenges facing the archaeological visualisation community in the upcoming years?
- Does the archaeological community embrace or encourage creativity and innovation in (visual) practice? If so, how so? If not, how might these be cultivated?
- To what extent do existing publication formats constrain or enable visual practice?
- How can the widespread desire for impressive, impactful visual outputs be balanced with intellectual integrity? Are stunning imagery and rigorous research objectives mutually exclusive?
- What do we know about archaeology’s viewing audiences? Who is interested in our work? How are they interpreting our outputs? What are they looking for? What inspires them?
- What is the relationship between ‘new’ and ‘old’ media in archaeology? What are the most powerful visual tools today (new or old) for facilitating archaeological research?
- How are we training the next generations of archaeological specialists? Should we be concerned about a loss of visual skillsets? How can we equip students to productively make and use visual media?
Where do we go next? How can we continue to nurture a vibrant community of visual researchers and practitioners in archaeology? Who can we look to for inspiration?
We look forward to hearing your views!