Blog Post #5

At the end of last semester, I began working on a mapping project for the Free/Sackler Galleries publication, Ars Orientalis issue 51. I collaborated with Professor Holly Schaffer and my mentor, Sana Mirza. Using the ArcGis platform, I created two interactive maps featuring archival images curated by Holly. The maps help users understand how specific images and artistic influences traveled from the Middle East to Western Europe and Asia. We see the impacts of printmaking, visual arts, and exoticism converge as the images are replicated.

Working on this project was eye-opening in understanding how a print magazine that also has an accompanying online digital edition, come together. Rather than merely reprinting the information that is in the print edition, the online site features a companion piece in the form of a jointly written blog post. Working collaboratively has meant a lot of e-mails and meetings, drop-box shared files and google docs editing. We are nearly done with that project, and it is undergoing one final edit.

For my next project, Sana Mirza has asked me to look into the contemporary artists of Japan in preparation for Ars Orientalis 52. I had done an online summer workshop through the University of Norwich’s Sainsbury Institute for Japanese Arts and Culture, so I will be drawing on some of the work that I did there and contact some of the instructors as I start to gather information. I will also be returning to the project to data mining the past issues of Ars Orientalis, looking for details about submissions via gender, topic, and region.

Time management has been somewhat of an issue as the semester started January 3rd and I am also working on a monograph and writing a paper for a presentation at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association conference in April. As far as expectations go, I imagined that the project(s) I would be assigned would be less variable. It has been more of a smorgasbord of possibilities as the importance of new work at the Galleries takes precedence over other ideas that have been floated on their end. Learning to work with ArcGis was time-consuming, but I my collaborators and I are pleased with how the mapping project turned out. And I am glad I got to learn something new, by watching a ton of videos and through trial and error. The platform is so versatile that I am planning to use it for my humanities courses in the fall.

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