Image: The interior of a store in the principal street of Bogota with mule drivers purchasing. Joseph Brown, 1840
We are delighted to be supporting a new project, led by Nottingham Trent University, which utilises artificial intelligence (AI) to uncover the mysteries of important historical artworks including watercolour paintings, maps and botanical drawings.
A team of international experts from the humanities and sciences will use scientific imaging and analysis techniques to gather large scale data on materials, including pigments, dyes and paper, used by historical local artists from across the world.
From the late 18th century, European colonial powers such as Britain and Spain collected maps, charts and scientific drawings of flora and fauna from around the globe. Local artists from Asia to Latin America were employed to illustrate items in their place of origin, and the illustrations were then exported to the country requesting them. This process meant that there was a huge variation of different techniques, materials and styles in the artworks produced.
Analysing the artworks can provide experts with a range of key social, geographic, political, economic and technological information, including revealing details of global trade and information exchange networks that existed at the time.
Utilising both an AI-assisted method of data analysis and an online open data platform featuring the results and interpretations of analysis, the project will provide greater accessibility to this data, so that it can be used by researchers from multiple disciplines and in turn help answer further questions.
The project is led by Professor Haida Liang from the Imaging and Sensing for Archaeology, Art History and Conservation Research Group at Nottingham Trent University, and Dr Marcus Burke of The Hispanic Society of America, and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities in the USA. Other project partners include the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Royal Horticultural Society, the Museum of International Folk Art, Library of Congress, Getty Conservation Institute, Indiana University, and the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institute.
Find out more about the project.
Over the past few months, the Society’s five current PhD students have continued to carry out their research on the Collections, as well as a number of associated activities related to their projects.
We caught up with Dr Lydia Gibson, Junior Research Fellow at the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies, to hear how a Society grant helped her during her PhD and beyond.
This week is National Map Reading Week, an event run by Ordnance Survey (OS) which aims to encourage people of all ages to understand the importance of map reading and how this vital life skill can unlock the outdoors and keep people safe.
The Society has awarded accreditation to four programmes in the latest cycle of the undergraduate and Master’s programme accreditation schemes.
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