Presentation for ThatCamp CAA Feb 11 2014


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  • For the past 20 years I’ve been studying the links between feminist art and the women’s liberation movement. During a sabbatical a few years ago, which is when I began exploring digital ways to understand these links better, I also traveled from archive to archive doing the very traditional research historians do, looking at a lot of paper. It was then that I began to see the centrality of CS to the history I write about. When I saw the edited collection of her letters, I began to dream about about visualizing the circles I had noticed. Prior visualizations (by SNAC Social Networks and Archival Context) point to complexity of positioning an artist like CS, can see the numerous subject headings assigned to her in SNAC and the people connected in the SNAC visualization of metadata from some major archives. Can also see two alternative genealogies here one from an artist the other from a art history website
  • Visualizing Schneemann is a hack job inspired by of mapping the republic of letters, Visualizing Schneemann became a proof of concept project for me. What in the six weeks I had between acceptance and the AAA DAS could I accomplish with as many free off the shelf tools as possible working with me and a grad student who does not really have applicable digital skills. This is how I became an indiscriminate tool adopter. Without a large team to share the burden of new tool adoption or the luxury of time in which to experiment, I had to be extremely savvy about the tools I used. While I had some new ones in mind, and some I had already used, in the process of the project, I found myself both adopting and discarding tools.
  • My projects almost always begin with converting pdf to plain text files. I initially attempted to use Adobe Export PDF for this (Tool #1 19.99) but the optimal character recognition was not good and the files required extensive hand cleaning.  A tweet from Josh Honn directed me to ABBYY Fine Reader (Tool #2 $99). I ran the free trial and saw it produced excellent results. The time saved cleaning txt files more than made up for spending more money. Insight #2 Try free version before spending any money
    Insight #2 Sometimes it is worth it to spend (more) money
  • Metadata visualization can tell you an awful lot, and most art has a lot of good metadata. In my case I my graduate assistant hand created the metadata file then I began to explore
    418 letters about 1/3 of her extant preserved correspondence which is held by the getty, about 2/3rd letters from CS 1/3rd Letters to CS love” Not only is my corpus comprised of only some letters, but it is a highly edited collection, selected and annotated by Stiles who seeks to place CS in specific genealogy motivated no doubt by CS tenuous position in the “art world “As this book goes to press in spring 2010, no
    museum yet plans to offer Schneemann a retrospective after fifty years of pioneering work.” However in addition to establishing Schneemann’s centrality to the story of art, Stiles also highlights “the artist’s furious energy in defense of a woman’s right to represent herself and to control her future … Schneemann’s battle for feminist principles must be considered one of the” themes of the letters
  • I initially used Gephi (tool #3) to visualize various relationships within the letters. Gephi, is free and very cool (all the hip kids are using it), but has a steep learning curve.  I persevered, and with an in person walk through from Robin Davis, and judicious consulting of online tutorials, I was able to learn it. However, when I saw a tweet from Elijah Meeks about Raw, Cursory investigation revealed that it was more than sufficient for my needs and abandoned Gephi because Raw (tool #4) was far quicker.  "sunk cost" is no reason to persevere 
    when better tool for your needs comes along and 4 the best tool for your needs may not be the popular tool everyone is using
  • I decided to focus on CS’s letters. This visualization shows the disribtion of recipients by sex and occupation.
    see that as expected artists dominate, but also some other interested aspects become clear, such as while artists split almost evenly male female, art historians tipped female critics, curators, poets all tipped male. Wife is as large as dancers.
  • Don’t ignore tools you already have access to excel, has some decent visualization functions hiding in that chart tab this reveals her most relevant circles, and the heavy tilt in the edit correspondence to three men central to her life. Raises fascinating ? Because stiles is seeking to establish CS as an impt artist did she select letters that tied CS to established artists, who are men correspondence. Her life long friendship with three men the composer James Tenny, the filmmaker Stan Brakhage and the Poet Clayton eshleman are the largest collection which tilts towards film music and poetry
  • To get to deeper metadata in letters, I experimented with Stanford University’s natural language processing named entity recognition software (tool #5 free) The program may initially appear daunting, but it has very user-friendly interface once you get used to it. I used that to tag names, places, and organizations mentioned in letters.  Extracting those tags proved more difficult. Googling found me William G. Turkel’s excellent process for scraping that harnessed the OS of MAC (tool #6 free).  At this point, time was getting very short, so I asked someone else more familiar with linux to do it for me.   I quickly hand cleaned those results yielding spreadsheets. If you don’t know how to do what you want to do, google No one can do everything ask for help when you need it
    263 tags once all three NER lists combined, depending the order you enter the data in the display differs, to get this tidy spiral I had to enter data from least to greatest values, representing frequency by # of cells rather than in a tally which I completely discovered by accident when I attempted to code the five “women” who are goddesses
  • The locations extracted cried out for a map. I went with google map pro (Tool #7 $5 month), which worked fairly well, although I had to convert the locations to latitude/longitude and feed them into the program. I later learned, again via a tweet from Liz Timms, about a great tool Timemapper (tool #8 free) that creates lovely spatial/temporal visualization and includes conversion to latitude and longitude that I now use. Even if you've found a tool that works, keep your eyes open for something better (or cheaper)
    Extremely diverse in terms of geographic locations
    mentioned in the letter, reveals the deeply international aspect of the art scenes in which she circulated.
  • However that still hadn’t got me to the deeper content of the letters. For that I used corpus linguistics, which I learned about from Heather Froehlich several years ago. The tool for corpus linguistic is not hard) but the methodology is complex. Two years into doing corpus linguistics and I am still learning. There is currently an excellent MOOC right now that builds on the open resources of Lancester University and there are many excellent youtube video’s by toolmaker Laurence Anthony (Tool #9 AntConc, free Use the internet to train yourself
  • THE PAST is particularly interesting because of Schneemann’s deeply historical work, both in her reworking on canonical art history, such as SLIDE Cezanne She was a Great Painter (c 1975) and SLIDE in her attempts to revision preshistory such as Unexpectedly Research 1962-92
    The past appears in a total of 33 letters, 19 to 15 men, and in 14 to 10 women, denser because of correspondence with Naomi Levinson, a
    woman about whom I've been able to find little. She is the most frequent female correspondent in the book , but none of her letters are reprinted
    SLIDE I identified five ways “the past” appeared in her letters which I don’t have time to go into but I’d be happy to tell you more about it or you can read the longer version of my presentation from AAA or watch it this is a small sample from only a subset of CS’ corredpondence but both these results, as well as the analysis I was able to do with off the shelf tools convinced me that the project is work pursuing. I’ll be reruning to the getty to comb through her correspondence to enhance the corpus, and hopefully be working with digial copy of her essays, which she published, to explore across genres of writing
  • My take away message is that the barriers to entry for digital humanities work, for the party of 1 Dher are not insurmountably. Looking at projects like The Republic of Letters can be daunting and discouraging. But what I hope I’ve been able to show here is that the tools are not really the issue. Formulating research questions designing projects, and leaning methodologies, as scholars we already have those skills.
  • I finally managed this by pulling something I started in Raw into powerpoint (again use what you have)
    Key word analysis revealed that “The” appears less frequently in letters to CS than in the letters from her which makes it a negative key word
    That set me off looking at the collocates for THE
    the slide here y axis shows frequency as compared to expected frequency in text of that size higher = appeared more freq than would be expected, x MI the statistical probability of word appearing together by random chance, further right as measure by log likilohood = less likely that co-occurrence is chance
    As we can see in the upper right corner the pink circles that cluster together away from the grey (which represent letters to schneemann) she had a distinctive way of using THE PAST
  • Presentation for ThatCamp CAA Feb 11 2014

    1. 1. How I became a discriminating tool adopter: A Party of One DH Tale Michelle Moravec @professmoravec
    2. 2. Ward Shelley. Carolee Schneemann Chart ver. 1, 2005. from Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art Brooklyn Museum Visualizing Schneemann
    3. 3. • What does network analysis of Schneemann’s correspondence reveal about her overlapping circles? • What does a corpus linguistics approach to Schneemann’s correspondence reveal about her as female artist in a largely male milieu?
    4. 4. 418 Letters 1956-1999 From -> To Alluvial diagram made in Raw
    5. 5. “organizations “from all CS Letters by Chronological Divisions from Correspondence Course
    6. 6. Correspondents' Sex and Occupation Alluvial diagram made in Raw
    7. 7. “Circles” represented by 13 largest correspondences Radar graph in Excel
    8. 8. Combined NER to get “names” Circle Packing made in Raw
    9. 9. Locations in CS Letters 1956-1999 Using Google Map Pro + Maps Data TimeMapper from Unghosting Apparitional Lesbian History
    10. 10. Corpus Linguistics study of language as expressed in samples of "real world" text reading with machines, distant reading • • collocates = words that appear together at frequency greater than random chance in a body of texts (corpus) keywords = unusually frequent words in a corpus when measured against a reference corpus
    11. 11. “The Past” as • • • • “too much to the past” art history “torment from the past” personal “the past to the present” work “Not to destroy the past “ revelation • “my own historic rabbit hole” art history
    12. 12. Insights from Party of One DH project • • • • • Insight #1 spend money wisely Insight #2 Don’t just pick the popular tool Insight #3 Google or ask for help when you need it Insight #4 a better tool will always come along Insight #5 invest your time in learning methods not tools
    13. 13. Resources Used to Create Data Visualizations • • • • • • • ABBYY FineReader Express ($) Antconc Excel Gephi Google Maps Engines Pro ($) Maps Data Raw
    14. 14. chance  not chance co-occurrence (MI) Collocates for “the” by corpora chance  not chance observed frequency differences (LL)
    15. 15. “too much to the past” • • • • • • 1957 “the past fifty years” … “have gotten rid of some things without which painting is not painting” (Stan Brakhage) 1960 “The paintings change and I can say very little about how they relate to the past or to the future.” (Mona Mellis) 1960 “it belongs too much to the past, to my favored parts of paintings past “ (Naomi Levinson) 1966 After “Meat Joy” it appeared I had lost about half my friends in the art-world-scene. Now I’ve lost the other half! This is specifically those reviewers, gallery people, performers and contacts which shelter and perpetuate a small group—an unchanging group—with which I’ve been, in the past, involved.” (Jan Van der Merck) 1974 (In the past my relation to spectators was overt, determined, aimed at immediacies of interchange and effect. Still I always felt something like emerging from the deep lagoon, rising up from coral reefs to grab them, catch hands . . . tipping them over out of safety, assurance that we were separate—plummeting together, the ego entities fragmented, the definitions of actioners perceivers jumbled, male female, intentions, loss of intentions. Dream deep dives. Beyond the “self” which we each cart around like the doctor’s black kit bag. (Margaret Fisher) 1975 “In the past I opposed the functional and the aesthetic; had elaborate and precise theories on antagonisms between functional vision and visual vision.” (Daryl Chin)
    16. 16. “torment from the past” • • • • • 1962 “A sensation of love torment from the past—a selfindulgent thing indeed.” That becomes “banal” indeed “That was good sense, all that was possible in that time, sorrowful time. But fact; men of the medicine beds wanted to be needed beyond our immediate pleasure which fringed the forces of emotion.” (J-J Lebel) 1970 “it seems my mind is piled with contrary impulses: simplicities, complexities, the distance, all the time past without contact and the underlying sense (presumptuous, true, false, illusory, actual???) that I can—as in the past—say whatever I feel to you.” (James Tenney) 1973 “Of course I was crazy to leave . . . I was crazy. Being with Ant makes it all good, or me good for it all—or needing not so much of all there is to need/want. Being content on the inward center more than in the past. “ (Ann Lauterbach) 1975 “Now the most interesting thing which no one ever told me—[. . .] IS that one assimilates and carries intact into the future all the “images” of a friend or lover from the past and that these past selves (face, body) are immediately superimposed onto/within the changed person.”(Daryl Chin) 1976 the three of us in the past meetings felt deep friendship … his love in the past with he … he says we shed the past selves to be in this present moment. (Bill Thompson)
    17. 17. “the past to the present” • • • • • • 1967 “Jim made a tape collage from certain sounds deeply carrying for me, through the past ten years” (Joseph Berke) 1970 “An impulse to get rid of it—that heavy house— as I have to get rid of the weight of the past—what is past—in this present.” (James Tenney) 1972 “Funny, the more sense I have of present, the more the past carries, flows in…. Making tapes last night put me in touch with the past fullness.” (James Tenney) 1975 “as soon as viewers see the film in a generalized— present time, the personal time will have become “the past.”( Jonas Mekas) 1977 “she vitiates it by representing the past against which we set ourselves/or she won’t get it anyway because it’s not her authentic energy system/or if she does get “it,” write about “it,” classify us among her other critical displays we’re under glass, dead and frozen on the tract of history before we made our run” (Daryl Chin) 1979 “despite the remaining accumulations of what makes work and the materials of the work—still present in files, shelves, drawers, stacks against walls—despite these remains, the book has cleared the past for me . . . provided an open territory” (Barbara Smith)
    18. 18. “Not to destroy the past “ • • • • • 1957 “Also I have been hardly able to paint for the past three months—partly the fault of the jobs but partly of the pregnancy which took a lot of energy from me.” (Ethel Hayes) 1958 “Is all this any rightness—I expect you to clarify it for me because you have seen it more—and critically—and because your letter has set me off out of the past week with unprecedented verbosity.” (Naomi Levinson) 1959 “Their working concept of catching the ghosts of the past which interfere with the present and thereby facing motives which are often disguised destructive forces; “not to destroy the past but to put it back where it belongs.” And from this then that the clarity of true-will create what it really wants—but also that black-will can create what primary motives cannot admit” (Naomi Levinson) 1959 “in the past week plummeted into a mysterious world of myth and symbol emerging with a bloody revelation concerning a primordial dualism in the masculine psyche (serpent-son), and the magical act of possession effected by image making, relating then from the first paintings of beasts to the sustained preoccupations—in time—with the nude, the female form as alternate and how and why “other.” (Naomi Levinson) 1982 “I suffered in the past from being made to feel that I would be an antagonist, that my life and Jane’s were contradictory rather than interlinked. Anyway the depth of old depth-charges is more than the present can bear . . . I’m happy to be present mutually.” (Stan Brakhage)
    19. 19. “my own historic rabbit hole.” • • • • • 1978 I wanted to let you know something of what I’ve been doing with video over the past five years (since I’ve been back from London). (Gene Yongblood) 1986 Do you have my “Fresh Blood—A Dream Morphology”? essay and performance notes? For it is central to work of the past five years, and touches on Goddess shadows, lost essences, denied power. (Sir Lawrence Gowing) 1986 “I am making some strange works lately; my fame increases as does my poverty; unable to find any teaching jobs for the past six months search; and recent exhibit in D.C. with tremendous focus by critics, collectors, artists, sold nothing.” (Charlotte Victoria) 1995 “the scope of my work from the past 25 years is being redressed with 15 current and future museum exhibitions” (Rosalind Krauss) 1999 I am amazed for the past ten years at the gallery trajectory representing younger women artists who create assertive, in your face, hostile body representations, and the art world is rewarding this work! (Cindy Carr)
    20. 20. Workflow
    21. 21. Load corpora Collocates Negative keywords Word frequency in each corpora Normalize for corpora size Concordance plot by file Key word in context Concordance plot by file
    22. 22. Alluvial diagram made in Raw
    23. 23. Alluvial diagram made in Raw