Monday, 30 September 2013

Best of EVA book published

The paper I wrote with Emma Bevan and Aleksei Kudikov for EVA 2012 was chosen for a book of the best of EVA papers from four years of the conference:
Boyd Davis, S., Bevan, E. and Kudikov, A. Just In Time: defining historical chronographics. In: Jonathan Bowen, Suzanne Keene, Kia Ng (eds.) Electronic Visualisation in Arts and Culture. Springer. ISBN 978-1-4471-5405-1. 243-257.
I received my copy of the book today, and it looks good. Springer decided to use colour illustrations throughout which does make a big difference. The book is available here:
Click to go to Springer site
The EVA London Conference 1990–2012: Personal Reflections.
Part I – Imaging and Culture.
  • From Descriptions to Duplicates to Data.
  • Quantifying Culture: Four Types of Value in Visualisation.
  • Embodied Airborne Imagery: Low-Altitude Cinematic Urban Topography.
  • Back to Paper? An Alternative Approach to Conserving Digital Images into the 23rd Century.
Part II – New Art Practice.
  • Light Years: Jurassic Coast – An Immersive 3D Landscape Project.
  • Photography as a Tool of Alienation: Aura.
  • Fugue and Variations on some Themes in Art and Science.
Part III – Seeing Motion.
  • Motion Studies: The Art and Science of Bird Flight.
  • Game Catcher: Visualising and Preserving Ephemeral Movement for Research and Analysis.
  • mConduct: A Multi-Sensor Interface for the Capture and Analysis of Conducting Gesture.
  • Photocaligraphy: Writing Sign Language.
Part IV – Interaction and Interfaces.
  • Mobile Motion: Multimodal Device Augmentation for Musical Applications.
  • Legal Networks: Visualising the Violence of the Law.
  • Face, Portrait, Mask: Using a Parameterised System to Explore Synthetic Face Space.
  • Facebook as a Tool for Artistic Collaboration.
Part V – Visualising Heritage.
  • Just in Time: Defining Historical Chronographics.
  • Beckford’s Ride: The Reconstruction of Historic Landscape.
  • Reconfiguring Experimental Archaeology Using 3D Reconstruction.
Added 2 October 2013: the Contents, with authors, on the Springer site.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Strange overlaps - go by train

A hanging at Newgate prison (from Wikipedia)
As I noted here, one of the things that got me interested in chronographics was ungleichzeitigkeit, where events don't seem to line up as we feel they should. Things which seem to belong to the same time turn out to be further apart than we thought; things that seem to belong to separate eras turn out to overlap.*

An item in a television programme the other day alerted me to one of these strange overlaps.
Londoners travelled on the underground to see the city's last public hanging.
Yes, the Metropolitan Railway, the world's first underground railway, opened on 9 January 1863 using gas-lit wooden carriages hauled by steam locomotives, while William Calcraft carried out the last public execution in England five years later, on 26 May 1868, when he hanged Michael Barrett in front of Newgate Prison for his part in the 'Clerkenwell Outrage'.   

*An interesting writer on these tendencies in our thinking is Eviatar Zerubavel, professor of sociology at Rutgers University. See his 2003 book:
Zerubavel, Eviatar. 2003. Time Maps - collective memory and the social shape of the past. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Short paper for CHI workshop on Time and HCI

Florian and I developed a short paper that Florian then gave at a workshop of the CHI 2013 conference in Paris, 27 April - 2 May 2013. The call began:
In this hands-on workshop, we invite HCI [Human Computer Interaction] researchers, designers and innovators to engage with the concept of time. Time is often taken for granted in HCI, yet engaging with the assumptions that underpin it could provide a resource for research and technology innovation.
We used a mix of material to create a brief argument for using historic time-visualisation as an effective way to undermine assumptions and to provide alternative ways of thinking how time can be conceived and represented.

The call from November 2012 is here and our short paper is here.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Printing Mathematics in the Early Modern World

 I shall be making a presentation in Oxford on 16 or 17 December 2013 at a symposium on Printing Mathematics in the Early Modern World. Here's the abstract:
'If an idea bear any relation to quantity of any kind' - devising and printing historical time in the eighteenth century

The early eighteenth century saw the earliest 'mathematical' representations of historical time, particularly in France by Barbeau de la Bruyère (1710-1781) and Barbeu du Bourg (1709-1779), and in England by Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), whose phrase is quoted in the title.
      The significance for mathematics lies in the model of chronology employed, derived from the concepts of number and of time advocated by Descartes and Newton. Previous representations offered by Eusebius and Scaliger, among many others, had sought to capture the entire chronology of the world, but only as lists or tables: history as an accretion of events. Now such events were conceived in a quasi-spatial, measurable continuum, and presented as such graphically.
      The significance relative to printing lies in the techniques for these early 'data visualisations', a shift from letterpress to engraving in a truly spatial layout enabling patterns, clusters, outliers and lacunae to be shown for the first time. Anticipating later practice in quantitative visualisation, metaphorical, pictorial conceits began to be stripped away, but metaphor of course was never completely absent, and the paper will highlight the contribution of mapmaking as both metaphor and technique.
      Questions arising include the affordability of paper, concern with imprecision and error, tension between rhetorical and mechanical approaches to knowledge, and the issue of orientation: if time is mapped to rectilinear space, which axis should represent time? In a recent publication, Stephen showed that for Barbeu du Bourg and Priestley - and as far back as Oresme (c.1320-1382) - this issue of orientation troubled graphical inventors.
 It is at All Souls College. Here is a version of the call for papers.

Provisional programme, added 29 September 2013 
Authors and readers
  • Richard J. Oosterhoff, Notre Dame: "Printing Proofs in Paris c. 1500: Communal Authorship, the Typography of Enunciations, and the Point of Demonstration".
  • Leo Rogers, Oxford: “Printing Mathematical Texts in England in the 16th Century”.
  • Katherine Hunt, Birkbeck: tba.
  • Dagmar Mrozik, Wuppertal: "Mathematical authorship and its display in the Society of Jesus: Between individual and Jesuit".
  • Gregg De Young, The American University in Cairo: "Early printing of mathematics in Arabic".
Collections and collectors
  • Renae Satterley, the Middle Temple Library: "Robert Ashley (1565–1641): collecting and using mathematical books at the Middle Temple"
  • Tabitha Tuckett, London: tba.
  • Renzo Baldasso, Arizona: "The Technical Dimension of Early Printed Mathematical Diagrams, 1474–1482".
  • Stephen Boyd Davis, Royal College of Art: "'If an idea bear any relation to quantity of any kind' - devising and printing historical time in the eighteenth century".     
  • Matthew Eddy, Durham: "Appropriation or Invention? Chemistry, Ratios and the Visual Anthropology of Matter".
Space and aesthetics
  • Robin Rider, Wisconsin: "The power of negative space: 18th-century French mathematics in print".
  • Travis Williams, Rhode Island: "Managing Notational White in Early Modern Printed Mathematics".
  • Alex Marr, Cambridge: "The Aesthetics of Early-Modern Printed Mathematical Instruments".
Error and correction
  • David Bellhouse, Western Ontario: "Errors in mathematical tables".
  • Richard Kremer, Dartmouth: "On Printing 'Meaningless' Numbers, or Controlling Errors in Incunable Astronomical Tables".
  • Benjamin Wardhaugh, Oxford: "Error and its handling in Georgian mathematics books".

Catching up

I have sadly been distracted by my proper job at the RCA - too busy to blog. This is a quick summary of recent activities before I get pulled away again.
  • Florian Kräutli, EPSRC research student, has been doing a great job. Activities include:
    • We wrote a joint paper for a workshop at CHI 2013, the big annual Human Computer Interaction conference: Boyd Davis, S. and Kräutli, F. Time in Perspective: a visual approach to models of time. Workshop: Changing Perspectives of Time in HCI. CHI 2013, Palais de Congrès de Paris, Paris, 27th April - 2nd May 2013. We discussed a range of issues arising from making time visual and - as often before - contrasted the crudeness of many digital approaches with the subtle approach of much older examples on paper. Florian went to Paris to present the paper.
    • Writing a joint full paper for an annual conference in London: Krautli, F and Boyd Davis, S. Known Unknowns: representing uncertainty in historical time. Electronic Visualisation and the Arts, British Computer Society, London, 29-31 July 2013. Here we concentrated on the representation of uncertainty.
    • We have had a proposal accepted for a paper at ESSHC in Austria next spring: Boyd Davis, S and Kräutli, F. Scholarly chronographics: can a timeline be useful in historiography? European Social Science History Conference. Vienna. 23-26 April 2014.
    • We have been working with the Britten-Pears Foundation on timelines of Benjamin Britten's works.
  • My own work has included:
    • A presentation to Scientiae 2013 in April:  The Two Eyes of History: the origins of chronographics. Scientiae 2013: Disciplines of Knowing in the Early-Modern World, University of Warwick, 18th-20th April 2013. This focused on the two intellectual inputs to early timelines: an ontology of time based on linearity and uniformity, and an epistemology - used in order to articulate and convey this concept - of treating time as space, and history as a kind of geography. 
    • The Scientiae presentation led to a chapter proposal being accepted for a book to be published by Pickering and Chatto during 2014.  May not duration be represented as distinctly as space?  This will continue the theme of the early timeline pioneers' reliance on geographic metaphors, verbal or visual, as they sought ways to visualise time. 
    • I gave an invited talk to the Information Design Association: Inventing the Timeline: a history of visual history. Information Design Association, Royal College of Art, 29 January 2013.
    • The paper with Emma Bevan and Aleksei Kudikov for EVA 2012 was chosen for a book of the best of EVA papers from four years of the conference: Boyd Davis, S., Bevan, E. and Kudikov, A. Just In Time: defining historical chronographics. In: Jonathan Bowen, Suzanne Keene, Kia Ng (eds.) Electronic Visualisation in Arts and Culture. Springer. ISBN 978-1-4471-5405-1. 243-257.
    • I helped Liliya Korallo, now Dr. Korallo after completing her PhD successfully at Middlesex University, to write a chapter that was essentially a digest of the thesis: Korallo, L., Boyd Davis, S., Foreman, N. and Moar, M. Human-centric Chronographics: making historical time memorable. In: Weidong Huang (ed.) Human centric visualization: theories, methodologies and case studies. Springer. ISBN 978-1-4614-7484-5. 473-512.
That's it for now.