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Worth a Thousand Words: Archival Description of Photographs Margot Note Director of Archives and Information Management Wo...
World Monuments Fund <ul><li>Founded in 1965 </li></ul><ul><li>Headquarters in New York, offices in Europe and UK </li></u...
Photographic Archives <ul><li>60,000 digital images  </li></ul><ul><li>1,800 image CDs </li></ul><ul><li>35,000 slides  an...
 
 
 
 
 
 
Photographs as Records <ul><li>Became part of a broader range of evidence as scholarly interests expanded </li></ul><ul><l...
Postmodernism <ul><li>Rejects concepts of rationality, objectivity, and universal truth  </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasizes the ...
Visual Literacy <ul><li>Pacey (1983) notes, “There is of course a crucial difference between illiteracy and visual illiter...
 
 
Meaning <ul><li>Unlike archives and manuscripts, image collections often do not have a defined organizational structure, i...
 
Content vs. Context <ul><li>Content limits interpretation of photographs as historical evidence and requires expertise to ...
Provenance <ul><li>Examination of context in which images have been created, used, and maintained in image collections </l...
 
 
 
 
Archival Description <ul><li>Combines traditional library and archival practice with the more focused descriptive practice...
 
Metadata (WMF) Country: Ethiopia Site: Rock-hewn Coptic Churches of Lalibela, Biet Giorgis (House of Saint George) Caption...
Metadata (ARTstor) <ul><li>Title: Biet Giorgis (House of Saint George) </li></ul><ul><li>Location: Lalibela, Ethiopia </li...
Description in Context <ul><li>By failing to document rich contextual relationships, variety of narratives, and multi-prov...
Works Cited <ul><li>Kaplan, E., & Mifflin, J. (2000). “Mind and sight”: Visual literacy and the archivist. In R. C. Jimers...
 
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Worth a Thousand Words: Archival Description of Photographs

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My presentation for the Archives, Rare Books, and Special Collections Conference, Indiana University, Bloomington, 2010. Here, I talk about the challenges of describing archival photographs of architectural monuments around the world.

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Worth a Thousand Words: Archival Description of Photographs

  1. 1. Worth a Thousand Words: Archival Description of Photographs Margot Note Director of Archives and Information Management World Monuments Fund
  2. 2. World Monuments Fund <ul><li>Founded in 1965 </li></ul><ul><li>Headquarters in New York, offices in Europe and UK </li></ul><ul><li>Foremost private, nonprofit organization devoted to on-site conservation of monuments and sites worldwide </li></ul><ul><li>90 countries, 500 projects </li></ul>
  3. 3. Photographic Archives <ul><li>60,000 digital images </li></ul><ul><li>1,800 image CDs </li></ul><ul><li>35,000 slides and 20,000 prints </li></ul><ul><li>Arranged by country, site, and project </li></ul><ul><li>Key images digitized for ARTstor </li></ul>
  4. 10. Photographs as Records <ul><li>Became part of a broader range of evidence as scholarly interests expanded </li></ul><ul><li>Recognized as records of enduring value in their own right </li></ul><ul><li>Postmodernism </li></ul><ul><li>Visual Literacy </li></ul><ul><li>Provenance </li></ul>
  5. 11. Postmodernism <ul><li>Rejects concepts of rationality, objectivity, and universal truth </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasizes the diversity of human experience and multiplicity of perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Questions the concept that records have only one possible meaning </li></ul>
  6. 12. Visual Literacy <ul><li>Pacey (1983) notes, “There is of course a crucial difference between illiteracy and visual illiteracy. People who cannot read know that they cannot read. We all think we can ‘read’ images—but very probably we cannot” (233). </li></ul>
  7. 15. Meaning <ul><li>Unlike archives and manuscripts, image collections often do not have a defined organizational structure, individual titles, or creator names by which they can be described. </li></ul><ul><li>Panofsky (1939): preiconography, iconography, and iconology </li></ul><ul><li>Kaplan and Mifflin (2000): superficial, concrete, and abstract </li></ul><ul><li>Ofness and aboutness </li></ul>
  8. 17. Content vs. Context <ul><li>Content limits interpretation of photographs as historical evidence and requires expertise to provide useful service to researchers. </li></ul><ul><li>Context fully appreciates the evidential value of photographs. </li></ul>
  9. 18. Provenance <ul><li>Examination of context in which images have been created, used, and maintained in image collections </li></ul><ul><li>Historical, aesthetic, and cultural frame of reference </li></ul><ul><li>Intended functions </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships and meanings related to conventions at the time and place of creation </li></ul><ul><li>Interests of the photographer </li></ul>
  10. 23. Archival Description <ul><li>Combines traditional library and archival practice with the more focused descriptive practices of the visual resources community. </li></ul><ul><li>Depends on intended uses and audiences. </li></ul>
  11. 25. Metadata (WMF) Country: Ethiopia Site: Rock-hewn Coptic Churches of Lalibela, Biet Giorgis (House of Saint George) Caption: Of all the churches, Biet Giorgis is particularly stunning and beautiful, situated apart from the other churches to the west, intricately carved into the shape of a cross. Image Date: March 2008 Photographer: Gaetano Palumbo/WMF Provenance: Site Visit Original: digital CD WMF107
  12. 26. Metadata (ARTstor) <ul><li>Title: Biet Giorgis (House of Saint George) </li></ul><ul><li>Location: Lalibela, Ethiopia </li></ul><ul><li>Subject: Of all the churches, Biet Giorgis is particularly stunning and beautiful, situated apart from the other churches to the west, intricately carved into the shape of a cross. </li></ul><ul><li>Description: Exterior, from ground level </li></ul><ul><li>Creator: Gaetano Palumbo/WMF </li></ul><ul><li>Image Date: March 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Image Copyright Note: © World Monuments Fund </li></ul><ul><li>Repository: World Monuments Fund, www.wmf.org </li></ul><ul><li>Rights: This image was provided by World Monuments Fund. Contact information: Margot Note, World Monuments Fund, 95 Madison Avenue, 9 th Floor, New York, NY 10016, 646-424-9594 (phone), 646-424-9593 (fax) This image is available for uses permitted under the ARTstor Terms and Conditions of Use, such as teaching and study, as well as for scholarly publications, through the Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) initiative. If you are seeking to use this image for scholarly publication, you should click on the IAP icon below the thumbnail image. </li></ul>
  13. 27. Description in Context <ul><li>By failing to document rich contextual relationships, variety of narratives, and multi-provenancial characteristics, we limit the evidential and informational value of photographs. </li></ul><ul><li>New possibilities: new ways of understanding photographs, new voices waiting to be documented, and new ways of engaging our users and presenting our work to the public. </li></ul>
  14. 28. Works Cited <ul><li>Kaplan, E., & Mifflin, J. (2000). “Mind and sight”: Visual literacy and the archivist. In R. C. Jimerson (Ed.) American archival studies: Readings in theory and practice . Chicago: Society of American Archivists. </li></ul><ul><li>Pacey, P. (1983). Information technology and the universal availability of images. IFLA Journal 9(3), 230-235. </li></ul><ul><li>Panofsky, E. (1939). Studies in iconology; Humanistic themes in the art of the renaissance . New York: Oxford University Press. </li></ul>

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