Get involved with THATCamp CAA 2014!

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Author: Michelle Millar Fisher

I’m co-organizing the second ever THATCamp at the College Art Association annual conference (CAA) in Chicago this year, and I’m getting excited. We’ve got a great roster of confirmed speakers (coming from a range of places and stages, including Google, the Getty, and grad school, to name but a few!). The event kicks off in a few short weeks on Monday and Tuesday February 10 & 11. There’s also a reflection session on Thursday February 13 for those of you attending CAA.

This isn’t a marketing plug for the event – it doesn’t need it as it’s already oversubscribed and totally free to get into (score!). What I’m really looking for is input from the AHTR community in terms of setting the agenda, especially around digital pedagogies in art history. Specifically, I’d like people to weigh in on the discussion happening online just now on the THATCamp CAA website around session proposals for the event. See the list of confirmed speakers below (including two AHTR contributors, Renee McGarry and Nancy Ross).

For those of you unfamiliar with the THATcamp concept (I was too before last year), here’s the low-down: it’s a digital art history unconference, and this particular one is held in association with the College Art Association, with the goals being to increase awareness of existing digital projects in the disciplines of art history, architectural history, and archaeology for both scholarship and education; to create a community of scholars interested in exploring the benefits of digital art history and facilitate collaborative opportunities; and to provide hands-on training in relevant digital tools in concurrent workshop sessions

THATCamp stands for “The Humanities and Technology Camp.” It is an unconference: an open, inexpensive meeting where humanists and technologists of all skill levels learn and build together in sessions proposed on the spot. It’s collaborative: there are no spectators at a THATCamp. Everyone participates, including in the task of setting an agenda or program. Unlike the main conference, where panels and presentations are set in stone months and years in advance, anyone can propose a topic on anything related to art history + “the digital” at THATCamp CAA, including on the day of the event.

It’s also informal: there are no lengthy proposals, papers, or presentations. No reading straight for twenty minutes without drawing breath (there are times when this can result in captivating presentations – but only sometimes). The emphasis is on productive, collegial work or free-form discussion. It’s spontaneous and timely, with the agenda being mostly or entirely created by all the participants. It’s productive: participants are encouraged to use session time to create, build, write, hack, and solve problems. It’s non-hierarchical and non-disciplinary and inter-professional: THATCamps welcome graduate students, scholars, librarians, archivists, museum professionals, developers and programmers, K-12 teachers, administrators, managers, and funders as well as people from the non-profit sector, people from the for-profit sector, and interested amateurs.

This is where the AHTR community comes in. Whether you’re going to attend or not, the conversation that’s already begun online could really benefit from your input and interest in art history pedagogy and “the digital.” What issues, themes, and opportunities do you see in the intersection between art history, teaching, and the digital age?

What great projects are out there that marry art history pedagogy + digital tools, methods, or ideas, and could serve as models or springboards for discussion?

How are digital resources and tools under-or over-utilized in our classrooms?

What training do you want? What digital skills should or could we be equipping our students with in our classrooms? (Coding as a “second language” requirement in grad programs?)

In which ways is the future of our field, our teaching, our employment dependent on or interrelated with the digital, and are we prepared? 

What else? 

If you can’t make THATCamp this year, don’t worry. I’m confident that it’s only a matter of time before the event will be scheduled during the main conference. So many of the issues we’ll talk about – from digital pedagogies to digital publishing, and data management, dissemination and visualization – are central rather than peripheral discussions in our field. Please, make your voice heard on the proposals page. Every idea counts!


THATCamp CAA will take place on Monday February 10 (11.45am – 5.15pm) and Tuesday, February 11 (9.30am – 5pm), the days immediately preceding the CAA annual conference, and a follow up “reflection” session will occur on Thursday February 13th (9.30am – noon). Participants should ideally be able to attend both sessions.

Confirmed speakers include:

Piotr Adamczyk, Program Manager, Google Cultural Institute (will participate via Google Hangout) // “What’s Google up to? … and is there a catch? The Open Gallery Project”

JiaJia Fei, Digital Marketing Manager, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NY // “The Museum & Social Media”

Amanda French, National THATCamp Coordinator, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, VA // Omeka Workshop

Charlotte Frost, Visiting Assistant Professor of contemporary/digital art histories and digital literacies at City University of Hong Kong // Digital Publishing workshop

Dene Griger, Creative Media and Digital Culture Program, Washington State University Vancouver // “Participatory apps and founding a digital publishing house to publish digital artist’s books”

Kevin Hamilton, Associate Professor, New Media Program, School of Art and Design at the University of Illinois and students Jessica Landau and Melissa Seifert // “Learning to See Systems: addressing the role of vision in new technologies”

Liz McDermott, Managing Editor, Getty Research Institute Web and Communications // “Bridging the Gap: Presenting Scholarly Content on Social Media Platforms”

Renee McGarry, Senior instructional designer at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, New York // “Beyond Tools and Tips: Manifestos about Teaching Digitally”

Michelle Moravec, Associate Professor, Rosemont College // “Visualizing Schneemann explores the production of histories of art using multiple digital tools”

Nancy Ross, Assistant Professor of Art History at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah // “Students Respond to Teaching Twentieth Century Art History with Gender and Data Visualizations”

ArtAndFeminism Wikipedia Meetup/Chicago // Wiki Workshop & live edit-a-thon led by Jacqueline Mabey (The office of failed projects, New York) Siân Evans (Coordinator of the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLiS/NA)’s Women and Art Special Interest Group), Melanie Emerson, (Head of Reader Services at the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, The Art Institute of Chicago), Holly Stec Dankert (Head of Research and Access Services at the John M. Flaxman Library, School of the Art Institute of Chicago), Prof. Michael Mandiberg (Associate Professor at the College of Staten Island/CUNY and a member of the Doctoral Faculty at the CUNY Graduate Center) and Amy Ballmer, (Art Librarian, The CUNY Graduate Center Mina Rees Library).

THATCamp CAA 2014 is pleased to announce the support of emerging voices in the field of digital art history.  This year, THATCamp CAA 2014 has committed to providing a platform for early-career scholars and students in the field of digital art history.  The participants below will join the roster of confirmed THATCamp speakers, and will lead discussions around key themes, ideas, and practical applications in the broad field of digital art history.  

Francesca Albrezzi, University of California, Los Angeles and Tom Scutt, Getty Research Institute) // “Getty Scholars’ Workspace: Developing tools, methods, and standards for conducting and publishing original research in digital form”

Desi Gonzalez and Liam Andrew, MIT // “HyperStudio: Collaborating with Colleague and Cultural Institutions”

Meredith A. Brown, Metropolitan Museum of Art and A.L. McMichael, The Graduate Center, CUNY // “Upcycling:” Building a Professional Online Presence Through Digital Publishing

Nathalie Hager, University of British Columbia // “Case Study on WHAM – World History of Art Mashup

Tara Zepel, University of California, San Diego // “Visualization in digital art history”

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