Heritage Jam, 11-12 July 2014




We are very pleased to announce the launch of a new project – The Heritage Jam– a collaborative endeavour funded by the Department of Archaeology, with support from the Centre for Digital Heritage at the University of York. The Jam invites artists, animators, designers, programmers, archaeologists, historians, conservators, museums professionals, heritage practitioners, students and other interested specialists and members of the public to join forces in creating new, cutting-edge visualisations of the past. We aim to push the boundaries on the nature of heritage presentation—experimenting with forms of display, demonstrating the importance of imagery to understanding the past, and showcasing the innovation and creative potential across the heritage sector internationally.


Based on jamming events commonly held in the games industry, where ad-hoc groups meet for short, intensive periods of time to produce game prototypes, here we seek to develop new views on the past through 2D and 3D image-making. At the same time, we’re hoping to stimulate connections and inspiration between those working in heritage, and those whose work often involves visualising the past in other industries and forms (film and television, art, literature, comics, further education, tourism, video game development, etc.).


As part of the Jam, you will produce one or more images in any media on a specified heritage theme—to be announced in the weeks to come. You will submit electronic copies of your images, videos or multi-media projects by end-of-day on Friday, 11 July 2014 for exhibition and judging by a panel of experts. Winning entries will be announced the following day, Saturday, 12 July 2014, at an awards ceremony at the Centre for Digital Heritage international conference. All submissions will feature in a web-based exhibition, as well as in a digitally-projected physical exhibition in York.


Anyone from any part of the world with an interest in heritage visualisation is invited to participate. If you are nearby to York, the project will culminate in a one-day collaborative ‘making’ session at the University of York on 11 July 2014: registration for the making session is £10 (including lunch, refreshments and access to facilities), and open to all.


To join the Jam, register online here.


For more information, contact Dr Sara Perry– follow us on Twitter and Facebook – or visit our newly-launched webpages – http://www.heritagejam.org/




Music Preserved Online



An important collection of rare classical music recordings will soon be available via York Digital Library, the University of York’s online multimedia repository (http://dlib.york.ac.uk). This is the Music Preserved archive, which is held by the Borthwick Institute for Archives. Music Preserved is an organisation which exists in order to preserve rare music recordings, and their collections include recordings donated by figures such as the conductor Charles Mackerras, tenor Richard Lewis and opera enthusiast the 7th Earl of Harewood. Many of the recordings are unique records of particular performances. An ongoing project, involving the Department of Music, aims to digitise the archive, which exists on a range of formats including reel-to-reel tapes, DATs (digital audio tapes), VHS, audio cassettes and acetate discs. Alongside this, a catalogue of the archive is being created.

Working with the Department of Music and the Borthwick Institute, the team behind York Digital Library has made the catalogue available online. It is possible to browse through the archive by its various sub-collections (such as the Harewood and Mackerras collections), or search using keywords such as composer name, musical work title, performer name or date. A new submission form allows cataloguers to continue to add new records and upload audio files directly to the Digital Library. The effort to digitise the collection is a more involved and time-consuming process than the cataloguing. However, a significant part of the collection is now digitised. The digital files for one collection, the Richard Lewis archive, are already uploaded to York Digital Library. Over the next few weeks, we will be uploading further recordings.

Visit the Music Preserved archive online

The petroglyphs of Gabriola Island

Yvonne Marshall and Eleonora Gandolfi use RTI to record a petroglyph

Yvonne Marshall and Eleonora Gandolfi use RTI to record a petroglyph

The team from the Centre for Digital Heritage and the University of Southampton have arrived on Gabriola island British Columbia. The first two days of the visit have been spent with local people identifying rock art sites and deciding which petroglyphs might be most usefully recorded using digital imaging techniques. The sites are located throughout the landscape of the island. Some of the sites are very close to the waterline while others are located high on hillsides.


Petroglyphs are often found along the seashore.

Petroglyphs are often found along the seashore.

The locations, variable quality of the stone and possibly the age of the petroglyphs has led to differing degrees of erosion. Some of the carvings are extremely crisp and clear but are endangered by the flaking of the rock into which they are carved while others have grown faint through erosion caused by weather and human activity. In both of these cases RTI and photogrammetry allow us to create a record of the petroglyphs which can be used to monitor deterioration or to interpret carvings which have grown faint.

As the interpretation of the petroglyphs continues we will begin to post results the CDH blog. These will allow you to share the insights which RTI and photogrammetry give us into the form of the petroglyphs and will also explain how these technologies can be used to interpret and assist in the conservation of weathered stonework.

Digital Media and Visual Ethics – Call for Contributors


Those interested in the intersections between digital media, visualisation and ethics might be keen to put forward a proposal (deadline 5 April) for participation in a special event at this year’s American Anthropological Association conference in Washington, DC in early December. Running both in-person and online, the roundtable discussion event is being co-organised by a member of the Centre for Digital Heritage, along with visual anthropologists from the University of Ulster (UK) and the University of Arkansas (USA). It offers an opportunity for interested practitioners to share their dilemmas and good practices in doing active, sensitive, ethically-robust cultural research with digital and visual media.

Digital heritage specialists have an especially important role to play in this conversation, grappling as they do with multiply-constituted, temporally-complex, fragmentary and sometimes deeply tragic subject matters and interpretative approaches. Digital engagements with everything from the basic representation of uncertainty in displays about the past, to the remediation of dark heritage, and the facilitation of virtual repatriation are fraught with ethical concerns. This special event provides a collegial space in which to discuss and work through such concerns with an international, interdisciplinary range of contributors.

Please see the call for contributions below, and contact the organisers for more information.


Organizers: Sara Perry (University of York), Terry Wright (University of Ulster) & Jonathan Marion (University of Arkansas)

Where: American Anthropological Association conference, Washington, DC, 3-7 December 2014

Who: Open to anyone internationally who works with digital media in the context of visualisation, visual cultural research, film, photography, art, museology, reception studies, heritage, archaeology, anthropology, and related fields.

More than ten years ago Gross, Katz and Ruby published Image Ethics in the Digital Age, a pioneering volume whose topical concerns – privacy, authenticity, control, access and exposure, as related to the application of visual media – are arguably just as salient today, if not more so, than in 2003. The ethical dimensions of image use within digital cultures are necessarily fluid and complex, driven by practical needs, institutional frameworks, related regulatory requirements, specific research and intellectual circumstances, not to mention individual and collective moral tenets. The nature of visuality itself has also been extended via digital technologies, therein further complicating our interactions with and applications of visual media. Ethical practice here, then, tends to be necessarily situated, depending upon recursive reflection and constant questioning of one’s research processes, objectives and modes of engagement.

This session aims simultaneously to expose practitioners to, and build a resource base of, visual ethics ‘in action’ in digital contexts. It relies upon two streams:

(1) an online forum hosted on the Society for Visual Anthropology’s webpages where, prior to the AAA meetings, contributors will submit short descriptions of the ethical dimensions of their in-progress or recently-completed visual/digital research. These will provide fodder for more extensive debate in:

(2) an open, live-streamed presentation and discussion session at the AAA meetings in Washington, DC in December where various contributors to the blog will present either on-site or via Google Hangouts, and contribute in real time to reflections/direct commentary on the online forum itself.

The former will provide a stable space within which ethical debates can be added to and developed in the lead up to, during, and after the 2014 meetings. The latter offers a concentrated opportunity to channel the collective wisdom of participants (both at the meetings and online) into the negotiation and rethinking of ethical visual practice in the digital world.


For those interested in participating, please provide a brief description (max. 150 words) of the particular scenario or issue you wish to contribute to the session as soon as possible, and by 5 April 2014 at the latest. You will also need to indicate whether you plan on presenting in person or via Google Hangout at the AAA meetings in December. Decisions will be made by 10 April, and contributors will need to register for the conference via the AAA’s web-based system by 15 April. All correspondence should be sent to Sara Perry.

The session will take the form of a series of brief, 10-minute presentations by participants, culminating in an extended period of group discussion and debate. Contributors will be expected to submit content for the webpages by the beginning of September 2014.

Documenting Rock Art in Western Canada: New Methodologies for Community Engagement



A team from the Centre for Digital Heritage at the University of York and the Archaeological Computing Research Group at the University of Southampton will be travelling to Western Canada next week to trial the use of low cost digital imaging technologies for the documentation of rock art. Working with local archaeologists and colleagues from Simon Fraser University the team will help to develop methodologies which can be used by local people to document the stone carvings (known as petroglyphs).

Petroglyphs were created by First Nations groups and exist across Canada. They provide a unique record of the lives and culture of First Nations communities but are often endangered by erosion and human activity. Low cost imaging techniques such as RTI and photogrammetry allow the documentation of petroglyphs without the assistance of expert researchers or the need for specialist equipment. The project, which is funded by the World Universities Network, will help to develop training materials and infrastructure which will allow anybody to contribute to our understanding and appreciation of these unique cultural assets.

While there the team will add frequent posts to this blog so be sure to check back and follow their progress.

Saving your Cemetry or Churchyard



On the 15th of May the Centre for Digital Heritage will be helping to run  a workshop for anybody interested in documenting and researching a cemetery or churchyard. The event will feature talks from experienced professional researchers including Felicity Smith from Arnos Vale Cemetery and Susan Buckham from Kirkyard Consulting. Felicity will be discussing her experiences in applying for Heritage Lottery Funding and also discussing her experiences in running a community centred project. Susan will be describing her experiences working with community groups to document burial sites in Scotland.

The afternoon will be run by researchers and volunteers from the Re-Reading the British Memorial project and will show participants how to use free or low cost digital imaging techniques to document cemeteries. The project is a collaboration between the Centre for Digital Heritage and the University of Southampton and aims to spread the use of digital imaging technologies amongst community research groups. 

The event is free to attend and will be held at Kings Manor in the centre of York. If you would like to attend then contact Gareth Beale (gareth.beale@soton.ac.uk)

The Centre for Digital Heritage


The Centre for Digital Heritage is a international research centre that brings together researchers in the Universities of Aarhus (Denmark), Leiden (Netherlands), Uppsala (Sweden), and York to undertake interdisciplinary research in Digital Heritage, including data management, analysis and visualisation. The Centre is open to all researchers in these exciting fields, and to their external collaborators.