Carolyn A. McDonough — Personal Journal Entry 2/17/19

On Friday, Feb. 15, after attending the Alan Liu talk (which was intense and special) I went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the exhibition Jewelry The Body Transformed. Among the items on view is this Warrior’s Neck Ornament (above) which is displayed vertically. In the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Paris ( Lost Art Collective’s dataset) there’s an almost identical object of adornment catalogued as War Charm, which is displayed horizontally (below).

Both Warrior’s Neck Ornament and War Charm are from the same place of origin — Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea — and made of the same mixed media materials.

I wondered why War Charm was oriented horizontally when I first looked through the Chirac’s African art that we’re using as our dataset. Such horizontal-ity makes the War Charm hover and appear oddly “disembodied”, because it’s worn around the neck, presumably like a neck tie, and therefore, vertically. This horizontal mounting might be due to a curatorial choice or lack of expertise about the specific use of War Charm on the part of the Chirac. I will investigate.

I’m enjoying working with Camilla and serving as the Project Manager for Lost Art Collective. On Thursday, Feb. 14, Camilla and I met with Digital Librarian Stephen Zweibel regarding our project and an assessment of Omeka and Carto as our software. I set up the meeting and fortunately Stephen was able to meet with us at the time we requested. My train was a tad late, so I arrived 5 minutes after the appointed time, but I’d contacted both Camilla and Stephen that my train was running behind, and they kindly waited for me to screech in. Camilla was on time — thank you, Camilla, teamwork!

Stephen then escorted us to his office and we had a very cordial and productive meeting. He is incredibly knowledgeable and the best news of all was that he said we had an “excellent dataset”. This is to Camilla’s credit for her interest in the The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage Toward a New Relational Ethics report that Lost Art Collective is drawing data from. He also said Omeka and its plug-in Neatline, as well as Carto, and all “good fits” for our project and the work ahead of us of cataloguing artwork/artifacts, mapping and data vis. Omeka and Carto can also be integrated.

Stephen advised us on a matter that we will have to address which is that we will need the computational resource of an outside server in order to install the recommended plug-in to Omeka. I asked if this is something we could take up with the New Media Lab and he said we might be able to, which would be great as Camilla and I are both Graduate Student Researchers at the New Media Lab. Camilla offered to inquire with Joe Kirchoff of the NML about this.

After our meeting with Stephen, we went to the dining commons and had a nice lunch meeting together discussing the project’s next steps and an issue of concern to us, which is the absenteeism of the additional two group members. The distribution of labor in our group is and has been quite unequal, with Camilla and I having done 99% of the work thus far. We will address this during our group meeting in class on Feb. 19, because it’s an unavoidable discussion and an issue that must be addressed, and hopefully ameliorated, going forward.

After our lunch and 2+ hour meeting, I devoted a few hours to editing our Revised Project Plan, with Camilla’s ok as it was initially posted by her at the stroke of midnight on Feb. 10/Feb. 11 (we made the dealine!) I added images, links, such as to the report, and edited the language.

I’m both enthused about Lost Art Collective and aware of the massive amount of work ahead of us with data entry, back end management, communication, consultations, etc.

I’m enjoying the readings for class so far, esp. Todd Presner who I’m also citing in my Independent Study project, and between these two projects, I’m quite sure I’ll be spending many more hours like this…




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