Digital humanities and visual culture

Under this heading the Media Acts research group sorts projects addressing digital visual culture as well as the use of computer-based methods in studies of visual culture. Inspired by the concept of ’cultural analytics’, interpretations of big data and  recent thinking emerging from the field of software studies, we ask questions related to the use of digital archives, dissemination of museum collections, the use of image based social media and visualisations.


Digital humanities and visual culture Projects:

Digitization and Diversity: Potentials and Challenges for Diversity in the Culture and Media Sector (2015-2019)

Digitization and Diversity: Potentials and Challenges for Diversity in the Culture and Media Sector (2015-2019)

In this interdisciplinary research project we examine the impact of public and private digitization initiatives on diversity. Diversity is a key objective in culture and media policy documents and securing a public infrastructure is a primary task. New digital conditions for production, distribution and consumption imply new challenges for policy making and public funding. This research project will contribute to the production of knowledge of relevance for a new digital culture and media policy.

The Digitization and Diversity project divides its attention across four industries: the library and book sector (e-books), museums (digital collections), film (digital cinema and movie files), and the press, especially local newspapers (e-papers). Focusing on the interaction between public and private actors, the research addresses content production, user patterns of digital consumption, private and public distribution and dissemination channels, as well as the new technological production conditions relating to interfaces, software (algorithms) and new methods of analysis (Big Data).

The overarching objective of the project is to determine how digitization influences different diversity dimensions in the culture and media sector. We explore this topic through the following set of research questions:

  • What are the unintended consequences of digitization on diversity in the selected industries and in culture and media policy?
  • How does the heterogeneous population use the new private and public digital services?
  • How does digitization change the conditions of diversity within the cultural heritage sector when it comes to selection, dissemination, participation, and the use of digital tools for the big data analysis?
  • How do digital innovation, business models and distribution channels influence the quality of the culture and media content, as well as the diversity of the content being offered?

The research project, which is financed by the Research Council of Norway, KULMEDIA program, is a collaboration between the Norwegian Business School (BI), the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), the National Library of Norway and the University of Copenhagen.

Participants from the Media Acts Research Group: Nina Lager Vestberg, Aud Sissel Hoel, and Anne Ogundipe (PhD student).

What we talk about when we talk about film (on SOME)

What we talk about when we talk about film (on SOME)

Digitalisation has changed public conversation about cinema, both in terms of how, where and when we talk about films. Websites such as Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic, and IMDb, and web services such as Twitter, have taken the place of traditional film reviewers in journals and newspapers. Digital criticism has been regarded as a democratisation of film reviewing that opens reviewing up for counterpublics, but we have also seen a tendency toward critical attention being limited to fewer works, for instance, more focus on American television series. On social media, Twitter has become a particularly important forum for conversations about cinema, and a forum shared by critics, film festivals, distributors and fans alike. By analysing the new set of critical discourses about film, and the way films are being talked about within these discourses, this project adds another aspect to the research group’s interest in the perspective of Digital Humanities.

Project participant: Anne Gjelsvik

Data visualisations as formations of information

Data visualisations as formations of information

What kinds of metaphorical strategies are found in visualization practices? Central to this project is a comparative study of the tropes found in analogue and digital visualisations of demographic information.

Traditionally, the main purpose of visualizations have been to illustrate a written text, understood as shedding light over the presented matter, through diagrams, graphical charts and isotypes (Manovich 2002, 2010, 2013, Tufte 1990, 1997). The art of visualizing has followed a set of conventions, developed over time. The main purpose of digital visualisations is still to inform and to explain, but it seems also that with visualisations of ‘big data’ it has been a growing consciousness about the potential for generation of knowledge related to visualizations, as well as a focus on the beauty and aesthetics of visualizations as such. Several recent studies of data visualizations have been oriented towards mapping the patterns of the new types of visualizations (Lima 2011, McCandless 2009), with a particular focus on the beauty of the complex visual expressions. Some studies are focussing on how data visualization generates knowledge parallell to the written discourse (e.g. MCCosker & Wilken 2014), but not many have yet been oriented towards the study of tropes of data visualization from the perspective of our visual mind sets and the way we use tropes to make information more cognitive comprehensible.

Informed by the theories of Lakoff and Johnson on how we relate to and engage with metaphors in our everyday life (and through our everyday language), presented in The Metaphors We Live By (1980), I will analyse occurrences of metaphorical strategies found in visualization practices. Central to this project is a comparative study of the tropes found in analogue visualizations and digital visualisations of demographic information. The purpose of theorizing the conventions related to the practice of visualizing will be to present a theory of how cognitive mind sets and the framework or affordances of various media technologies interact in the formation of visualizing tropes. Furthermore, this study will also propose a set of tropes that could be applied in a more dynamic and interactive visualisation of demographic information. Material from SSB (Levekårsundersøkelsen) and NRK (in particular examples of how information from the annual Levekårsundersøkelsen are being presented) will be retrieved for empirical analysis.

Researcher: Sara Brinch

Innovative data visualization and visual-numeric literacy (INDVIL)

Innovative data visualization and visual-numeric literacy  (INDVIL)

The project’s overarching goal is to uncover how public access to and use of publicly available data can be strengthened through innovative forms of data visualization.

Through the project members various studies INDVIL aims for identifying and exploring both the promises and the challenges of digital visualization in a larger social context, being at the same time sensitive to the technological and the cultural premises of the production and consumption of such expressions.

Contact: Sara Brinch

Datavisualizations and digital metaphors

Datavisualizations and digital metaphors

How are metaphors used in DV to make information more cognitive comprehensible and how are different metaphors interpreted by DV-readers?

The goal of this research is to present a theory of how cognitive mindsets and the affordances of media technologies and software applications interact in visual tropes found in digital data visualizations.

Visualizations of ‘big data’ have brought along a growing consciousness about the potentials for forming knowledge through data visualizations and infographics, as well as a focus on the beauty and aesthetics of visualization as such ( e.g. Lima 2011, McCandless 2012). Some studies also focus on how DVs generate knowledge parallel to written discourse (e.g. McCosker & Wilken 2014).

In this WP image studies oriented theories on visual figures, theories of visual analytics and George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s (1980) work on how we relate to and engage with metaphors in our everyday life will be combined with theories of media aesthetics (Mitchell 2015). The purpose of this is to analyse figural strategies found in various visualization practices (infographics included), exemplified in a material based on ‘best practice’ presentations, with a particular focus on information concerning natural resources and climate. The result will be a comparative study of the tropes found both in analogue and digital visualizations, implying that the project also has a historical aspect.

Datavisualizations and digital metaphors is affiliated with the research project Innovative datavisualizations and visual-numeric literacy (INDVIL), led by Professor Martin Engebretsen at University of Agder.

Contact: Sara Brinch