Project Team: Kirsten Hoving, Kirk Horton, Tevan Goldberg, Sam Kudman, Danny Padilla, Kristin Richards, Scott Waller, Danielle Weindling, Rachel Kang
About: “This exhibition features seventy-one photographs drawn primarily from the Museum’s rich holdings of historic and contemporary photography. Several years in the making, Land and Lens was curated by Kirsten Hoving, Professor of History of Art, with the assistance of numerous students in her classes, interns, and research assistants.
Instead of publishing an exhibition catalogue to be read after visiting the museum, Professor Hoving has produced a digital catalogue to be accessed on the spot as visitors make their way through the exhibition. You can use one of the Museum’s iPads to learn more about the works on view, or you can access information on your own tablet or horizontally-held smart phone. Headsets are available to enable you to listen without disturbing others.
In the digital catalogue you will find short videos that will enlarge your understanding of an artist or a specific photograph; written descriptions of photographic processes or environmental contexts; discussion of the art historical context for photographs; and interpretations of artists’ works through original music composed and performed by Middlebury College students. Short explanations of photographic processes are also available.
The photographs have been grouped into eight sections, each indicative of issues reflected in the individual works. As you enter a section of the exhibition, please be sure to access the accompanying information provided in the digital catalogue.
This project was supported by a grant from the Andrew J. Mellon Foundation and the Digital Liberal Arts Initiative at Middlebury College. Additional funding was provided by the Committee on the Arts, the Director for the Arts, and the Department of History of Art and Architecture.”
Project Team: Su Lian Tan, Daniel Houghton, Hosain Ghassemi (’17), Ruben Gilbert (’15), James Graham (’16), Justin Holmes, Sofy Maia (’16), Coumba Winfield (’17)
About: “Legends of Kintamani is an original cello concerto composed by Su Lian Tan and a suite of large-scale animated murals to accompany each movement of the concerto. It debuted at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music Contemporary Music Ensemble performance with a followup performance at the Middlebury College Center for the Arts.”
“Dedicated to Darrett Adkins, Legends of Kintamani,was inspired by travels to Southeast Asia and specifically Bali. The five movement story-telling form depicts a return to a more innocent time, one where mythology and reality combine in fairy tales.” –Su Lian Tan
Project Team: Michael Newbury, Daniel Houghton, Elise Biette (‘16.5), Maddie Dai (’14), Hosain Ghassemi (’17), James Graham (’16), Justin Holmes, Chad Kahn (’16), Sofy Maia (’16)
About: “The Collinwood Fire, 1908 has the scope of a scholarly book but is, instead, a formally complex, multi-media, digital story. Many people have contributed to the project, and we hope that others will do so by using and responding to it. Teachers and students working together in the Digital Liberal Arts Studio at Middlebury College built every part of the website. From the beginning, our efforts had to be intensely collaborative, because no individual had the range of design, technical, cinematic, research, and writing skills to complete it. This kind of shared digital scholarship in the humanities still stands in its infancy. One turn in the digital humanities is toward the mining and processing of enormous bodies of data, but our project harnesses computing power in a very different way—to tell stories across media and in ways that have simply not been available to previous generations of students and scholars.
Much of what we’ve done would have been impossible, or only possible in very different ways, just five years ago. Improvements in animation software, the proliferation of high-speed internet connections, the vast expansion of digital archives, and the full adoption of html5 and css3 make the look, content, navigation, and interpretive complexities of The Collinwood Fire, 1908 possible. The site tangles together the animated and the “real,” fading them into one another, telling the story of the fire while forcing readers to reckon with historical and narrative uncertainties that emerge in every account of the past. Similarly, the site positions visual and verbal sources against each other in untraditional ways, highlighting the always shifting ground of interpretation. When, for example, we initially show a teacher struggling to save children from death by fire in an action-filled animation sequence, she may well appear as the martyred heroine of a thrilling tale. Placing this vivid imagining against surviving sources about teacher-student relationships in Collinwood, though, as we do on the page entitled “Katherine Weiler’s Pearls,” forces a re-examination of that animated sequence. Maybe the movie depicts a martyred teacher struggling to save at least one child; or maybe it depicts scores of children ignoring a teacher in whom they feel no trust. The visual design of our project also places the technologies and design principles of the early twentieth century against those of the present, whether by representing a world of steam, smoke and fire in 3D animation or by mixing together the aesthetics of Victorian bookmaking with the movement and layout of contemporary web pages. The web makes these interpretive and creative juxtapositions possible in ways that more traditional scholarly forms do not.
Part of our purpose is to offer an example, a model, or at least an incentive for others in the humanities who might be interested in pursuing scholarly projects that take advantage of digital storytelling’s possibilities. To that end, the website also includes a small portion of our many, many stumbles, crashes, debates, restarts, and commentary on one section of the finished animation. Some of these difficulties were technological, but all were linked to more traditional questions and debates about narrative, historical interpretation, color design, and so forth. We wouldn’t want the finished product to obscure the often messy but rewarding process of creating it. John Dewey, the turn-of-the-20th- century educational reformer who was among the first theorizers and practitioners of what we now call “experiential” learning, would have lamented so much about the Lake View School —the overcrowded classrooms, the rows of fixed desks, the emphasis on recitation, the failure of architectural design, the seeming absence of imaginative or hands-on engagement in the curriculum. In making The Collinwood Fire, 1908 we have worked in response to one of many epigrammatic insights about education attributed to him: ‘We only think when confronted with problems.’”