DH in 3D: Multidimensional Research and Education in the Digital Humanities

AHA Session 160
Saturday, January 5, 2019: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Stevens C-5 (Hilton Chicago, Lower Level)
Micki Kaufman, The Graduate Center of the City University of New York
The Audience

Session Abstract

Computing capabilities for rendering high-quality three-dimensional graphics have progressed remarkably in recent years, largely in response to competition in the gaming and defense industries. While public awareness and engagement with virtual reality (VR) and/or augmented reality (AR) platforms has risen sharply, scholars are taking a measured and thoughtful approach, engaging with the new technology while remaining meta-critical about how high-speed computational capabilities like 3D, VR and AR can effectively represent the multiple dimensions in their digital humanities research.

An increasing number of multidimensional projects by digital humanities scholars focus on the modeling and simulation of real, historical physical spaces, and/or the articulation of imaginary or data-derived spaces for pedagogy and research in the humanities. A common thread of the use of three-dimensional representations and techniques is that they are at once both extremely complex and stunningly intuitive, both to render and to interpret. The same paradoxicality can be said of some aspects of digital humanities research. Using algorithms to approach questions of subjectivity and distance, employing visualization to explore voice and genre, and leveraging the virtual to explore the real, multidimensional scholarship likewise applies the rigid logic of computation to understand deeply subjective aspects of the human experience, in an immersive application of "thick mapping" (c.f. Presner et al 2014). The ability for DH to flourish while comprising such internal contradictions suggests the capabilities of multidimensional technology to distill and refine the essential points of complexity by articulating them in those dimensions. In this manner, multidimensional scholarship seeks to reveal the underlying essence of DH projects by employing rich, deep and immersive experiences in pedagogy, data visualization, modeling and simulation.

This panel brings a diverse host of scholars together to demonstrate and discuss their exploration of three-dimensionality, including virtual and augmented reality, in Digital Humanities research. Rachel Hendery and Kate Richards (Western Sydney University) will describe their group’s experiences of co-designing virtual reality and other 3D experiences with members of Australian First Peoples’ communities, Amanda Licastro (Stevenson University) will discuss her work in critiquing and building VR applications with undergraduate students, Micki Kaufman (City University of New York) will show the results of her utilization of three-dimensional interactive spaces for data visualization and storytelling of the Kissinger Correspondence, Austin Mason (Carleton College) will present on integrating GIS, procedural modeling and gaming technologies to explore contingent histories from a situated perspective, Angel David Nieves (Yale University) will discuss the ways in which 3D historical reconstructions can be used as tools for the promotion of social justice advocacy in digital humanities, Lynn Ramey (Vanderbilt College) will present on VR and embodiment to understand medieval textual transmission, and Edward Triplett (Duke University) will outline how 3D GIS techniques can be used to analyze early modern perspective drawings and late medieval borders in Iberia.

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