Thursday, March 23, 2006

Picasso's Portrait of Gertrude Stein

And here we discuss this famous portrait of Gertrude Stein at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Van Gogh's Starry Night at MoMA

Here are our observations about this famous painting, and the crowds that continually surround it at the Museum of Modern Art.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Goya, Politics and the Power of Images

My online students got into a heated discussion about how Enrico Scrovegni, the patron of Giotto's frescos in the Arena Chapel, asked Giotto to depict him handing the chapel to the angels and Virgin Mary in heaven -- thus implying a kind of virtuousness about himself, that the students felt to be a kind of potentially false representation. So, we made this vodcast about how images can be used to support specific political agendas, focusing on the famous painting by Goya, The Third of May, 1808. Warning: There are some difficult images in this video that may not be appropriate for all ages. This is currently working in internet explorer and firefox but seems to have a so far inexplicable problem in safari. Click here to watch.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sick and tired of the silence!

Well, if women have to be naked to get into the Met, what do they have to do to get parity in technology-related work? It seems nothing will work. Pretty much everytime I mention this problem to both male and female colleagues at SUNY -- I am met with an uncomfortable silence, as though they are all sitting there thinking "ugh, here she goes again." Recently two committees were announced up in Albany -- in the Office of SUNY Learning Environments -- regarding the future of the SUNY Learning Network. Now before I write anything else, I want to say that I care deeply about SLN. I am grateful to be part of that community -- colleagues like Michael Feldstein, Patrick Masson, Ken Udas, Rob Piorkowski (and the other MIDs), and Alexandra Pickett (and many others that I am not naming here), make my job so much more interesting and challenging, and they have taught me so much. Anyway, these two committees -- the Executive Committee (which is about to make some VERY important decisions about the future of SLN) and the Technology subcommittee -- are (approximately) 75% men. I said something about this inequity at a conference call -- and no one -- no one! -- said something that indicated that they were also concerned about the issue. To her credit, Alex told me that she would relay my concerns to the subcomittee, but that's as far as I got. What's up with that? Why the silence? Whe the defensiveness (sometimes I get "Don't look at me -- I didn't do anything")? All I am asking for is some awareness of the issue and some effort toward affirmative action -- taking conscious steps to fix this serious problem. Just some concern, is that too much to ask? Apparently so.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I was reading the kind blog post comments by Suhas Deshpande about our vodcasts, and found another blog entry there (by Corey Timpson) about a program called MemoryMiner. This is a way-cool application for creating storyboards from digital photos by tagging them (or pieces of them), annotating them, dating them, and linking them to a map. Here is a quote from the website: MemoryMiner is the first in a series of products by GroupSmarts, a company founded in December 2004 by John C. Fox, a recognized pioneer in the field of networked Digital Asset Management. The central idea behind MemoryMiner is a belief that the most interesting records of modern society and culture exist in analog form, "trapped" in boxes of old photos, letters and the like. It is clearly intended to be a way to create a history of one's family -- using new and old family photos. The long-term goal is to connect these histories to eachother. But it seems to me that no one has thought about the enormous academic potential for it. Think about it -- you could upload images from a period in art history, tag sections of the image (Mary, Christ, St. John, etc.), date the image, annotate the image, attach media files (audio files, vodcasts), connect the image to a geographical location (Florence, Siena, Padua -- you get the idea), then you could sort the images by the tags, and by combinations of the tags -- and what's so cool is this is done graphhically within the program, so if you just want images of Mary, you drag a pic of Mary into the filter area, of if you want images where Christ appears together with St. John, you drag both of them into the filter area. You could follow an artist's oeuvre chronologically the way you follow the life of your grandmother. You could follow iconographic elements within the image. The thing is, this requires a "skin" in order to take the xml data and images to create a truly inteactive web page. I don't think these skins exist yet. But just think of the authoring possibilities for students and faculty. Wow.