Dr Gil Pasternak of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has secured a grant of over £500,000 for a project exploring the role of digital media in defining cultural heritage.
Dr Pasternak, Senior Research Fellow in Photographic History, will lead the DigiCONFLICT research consortium consisting of a team of researchers from DMU, the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences and Linköping University in Sweden.
The grant was awarded by the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage (JPICH), which is part of the European Commission, and fits with the European Union’s Year of Cultural Heritage taking place during 2018.
The project will run between 2018 and 2021 to explore how national and ethnic communities around the world have used digital heritage to define and preserve their cultural assets and sense of morality.
With their research mainly considering case studies from Sweden, Israel and Poland, the three partner institutions will focus on oral history, multimedia museums and photography as the most commonly used media employed in digital heritage.
They will also commission other scholars, curators, archivists, digitisation officers and librarians from around the world to write related essays to give the project a bigger spread of data.
“We will be looking into the realities that have been established around digitisation and digitalisation practices,” Dr Pasternak explained.
“Digital heritage has largely become a lynchpin of educational and ideological efforts. As such it allows us to explore how established nations, culturally diverse societies and ethnic minorities transform around its making and dissemination.
“We will be looking at what happens to historical narratives, moral values and national and personal identities when politicians, policymakers, third-sector professionals and community members come together to turn tangible and intangible cultural products into digital data.”
Originally from Israel, now British, and of Jewish and Polish heritage, Dr Pasternak feels the subject matter of the project is of significance to individuals and societies alike. But he also believes that the current global interest in the impact of politics on national and personal identities makes this the perfect time to embark on this project.
He said: “At the moment we are living in a time when it is plainly visible how culture and cultural differences have become key political benefits as well as challenges in many countries.
“We will be looking into the way that majority and minority communities turn to digital heritage in order to claim and reshape spaces, histories and various social rights.
“Digital heritage is a medium that confronts the past and the present with each other, so our research will have both historical and contemporary value.”
Dr Pasternak believes that this research project will be of great scholarly and social use and that it links directly to DMU’s research strategy, which aims to focus on research with a strong societal impact.
He added: “This project is of great significance and importance because digital heritage now has immense influence on the way people learn about themselves and about each other. Inasmuch as it can help build bridges between cultures, it may as well be used to marginalise, even destroy others.
“It’s incredibly tough to secure a grant in arts and humanities nowadays, let alone a large grant like this. The DigiCONFLICT consortium and I consider it a great achievement to have been awarded this grant.
“But what is much more important is that success like this should in my view reinstate a sense of confidence in the mission of scholars who still believe education can make a positive difference in society.”
Clephan Building, room CL2.02b, Monday 5.00-6.30pm
Open to all – just turn up!
April 9, 2018| Dr. Michael Pritchard, FRPS (Director General Royal Photographic Society)
For ‘the interchange of thought and experience among photographers’: The role of the photographic society in British photography
Based on the early stages of a new research project, in this paper Michael Pritchard will look at the formation of the first photographic societies and, using the example of the Photographic Society [of London], the predecessor of the Royal Photographic Society, he will examine its activities and assess their impact and sets them within the wider context of British photography up to c1914.
How does clothing become fashion? To what extent does a consensual mode of dress emerge within a heterogeneous migrant society? How can clothing become political and to what extent can it express power relations? And which role does visual culture and photography play in communicating and enforcing changing clothing ideals?
These questions lie at the core of Dr Svenja Bethke’s research project Clothing, fashion and nation building in the ‘Land of Israel’, that has been awarded a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship by the European Commission. During the period of the fellowiship Dr Bethke will be hosted at the Hebrew University (Jerusalem), the Yad Ben Zvi Institute (Jerusalem) and also in the PHRC at De Montfort University, where Dr Bethke will work closely with Senior Research Fellow in Photographic History Dr Gil Pasternak.
Taking the ‘Land of Israel’ as a case study, Dr Bethke argues that investigating clothing, fashion and aesthetic perceptions brings to the fore the agency of migrant groups and adds a personal dimension to the history of nation building. Focusing on the period from the 1880s, when large-scale migration began, until the foundation of the Israeli state in 1948, Dr Bethke will investigate how Eastern European and German Jewish immigrants expressed social, cultural and political belonging through clothing and to what extent they were able to enforce their ideologies in the course of nation building. Dr Bethke ask to what extent the immigrants influenced each other in developing a specific mode of dress, and how they referenced the socio-cultural and political practices of their countries of origin, as well as the clothing of Arab people and the Ottoman and British occupying authorities.
With an unprecedented focus on gender and visual materials, Dr Bethke will draw from collections preserved by 15 archives in Israel, Poland and England, and 6 Israeli, German, American and Russian databases. The project will analyse private and public photographs and posters, and contextualise them against an assessment of written material and oral history interviews.
The three months of secondment at the PHRC under the supervision of Dr Gil Pasternak will enhance Dr Bethke’s methodological skills in the analysis of historical photographs. Through this highly interdisciplinary training, Dr Bethke aims to develop a new methodology that will integrate approaches from fashion history and visual culture into the history of nation building to shed light on the processes of negotiation and power struggles on the micro level of a community.
In times of mass migration, economic exploitation and global mobility, the project will contribute to an understanding of aesthetic perceptions, dress and beauty ideals as an expression of power, integration and exclusion.
Clephan Building, room CL2.02b, 5.00-6.30pm
Open to all – just turn up!
This week we present 2 papers by PHRC doctoral students
First paper: Erika Lederman
Women Photographers, Institutional Practices and the South Kensington Museum
This seminar paper will locate the career of 19th century institutional photographer Isabel Agnes Cowper within the history of the photography and the institutional history of the South Kensington Museum (now the Victoria and Albert Museum). It will present the biographical details I have uncovered to date, and will identify other 19th century female professional photographers from whom the SKM acquired photographs. It will examine the challenges involved in identifying and researching material culture produced by women and will suggest a multidisciplinary research approach that acknowledges the multiple strands of photography’s history.
Second paper: Catherine Troiano
Future of the Past: Commemorating 150 years of photography in Hungary, 1989
In 1989, exhibitions of photography were staged around the world to mark 150 years since the announcement of the medium. In Hungary, the commemorations comprised twelve exhibitions staged in Budapest and collectively titled ‘the month of photography’. These events came at a poignant moment culturally, socially and politically. This paper aims to use the anniversary celebrations as a case study through which to understand photography’s place and purpose in Hungary’s broader socio-cultural landscape. It interprets the 1989 events as a lens into the Communist past and a forebear of the Democratic future, exploring how photography was posited within the framework of this political change.
Attendance to this event is free, but booking is necessary. To book a place, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
9.30 Registration & coffee
10.00 Keynote lecture: Nick Hopwood (University of Cambridge)
“Visualising Human Embryos”
11.00 Coffee break
11.15 Camilla Røstvik (University of St Andrews)
“‘The Painter’s Are In’ – Menstruation in the Visual Arts since 1970”
11.45 Jesse Olszynko-Gryn (University of Cambridge) and Liv Pennington (artist)
“Visualising Pregnancy Tests in Art and Entertainment”
12.15 Kate Reed (University of Sheffield)
“Visualising ‘Life’ and ‘Loss’ in Medicine and Art: the Case of Fetal and Neonatal Post-mortem”
13.45 Isabel Davis (Birkbeck, University of London) and Anna Burel (artist)
“Seeing and the Unseen in the Experimental Conception Hospital”
14.15 Katie Coveney and Nicky Hudson (DMU)
“Visualising Reproductive Donation Online. An Analysis of Fertility Clinic Websites in the UK, Belgium and Spain”
14.45 Manuela Perrotta (Queen Mary University of London)
“Remaking Embryos. Time-lapse Microscopy and the Future of Embryology”
15.30 Coffee break
15.45 Kristine Fearon (DMU)
“‘Have You Ever Talked to Any Women with Turner Syndrome?’ A Rationale For The Use of Photo-Elicitation Interviews in Research on Reproductive Decision Making with Women with Mild Cognitive Impairment”
16.15 Tove Dalenius (DMU)
“Beyond 3D Printing: Holographic Visualisation of the Clitoris”
16.45 Concluding remarks & wine reception
Clephan Building, room CL2.02b, Mondays 5.00-6.30pm
Open to all – just turn up!
February 5, 2018| Professor Michelle Henning (University of West London)
Ilford Photographic Manufacturers: Industry, Innovation and Sensory Experience
This presentation outlines my new research project, which will investigate practices of technical innovation in the work of the Ilford Ltd. Photographic company and early colour photography enterprises during WWI and in the interwar period. Innovations include the introduction of daylight loading roll film and Ilford Special Rapid Panchromatic Plates (1915), the introduction of HP and infra-red films in the early 1930s, the introduction of colour film processes such as Dufaycolor and the early development of multigrade paper in 1939. Also circa 1928 a number of colour photography companies were floated on the stock market, as part of the boom in financial speculation. The Colour Snaps company collaborated with Ilford in 1928-30, although Boots the Chemists expressed concern about the quality and viability of its process, and the company soon folded.
My research asks how industry archives might provide a source for a materialist history which is concerned not only with empirical description and analysis but with more elusive questions of a changing aesthetic and sensory “economy” in Britain during this period. My first step is to track technical, especially chemical, innovations and gain a sense of their impact on photographic practice across diverse fields. How did these address specific problems or needs such as those arising from war, economic changes, or new business and retail practices? The next step is more difficult: I want to ask how did these feed into the ongoing process by which technical images were being integrated into larger everyday experiences? This involves understanding photography not simply as a prosthetic means for extending human vision, but as something which transforms experience, understanding, sensory engagement with the world, habit and behaviour. For this paper, I will discuss some aspects of the archive, aspects of existing studies of photographic companies (Kodak, Corbis, Polaroid and others) and outline some of the key theoretical approaches that might help us unpick the question of transformation of sensory experience.
Michelle Henning is a writer and artist, and is Professor of Photography and Cultural History at the University of West London. She writes on photography, modernism, new media, and museums. Her latest book is Photography: The Unfettered Image (forthcoming Routledge, 2018).