Past Events

Mass Data Methodologies

Workshop – Anita Gowers, Paul Wilson, Shane Morrissy, Hannah L. Jacobs, Paul Jaskot, Lee Sorensen, Rhian Addison McCreanor, Ming Tiampo, Janneke Van Hoeve, Maribel Hidalgo Urbaneja, Mary Okin, Hans C. Hönes, Pansee Atta

  • 9 December 2022
  • 12:00 – 5:00 pm
  • An online workshop

Art history has traditionally been a discipline concerned with the individual – the singular artist, the sole figure taken to be exemplary, representative or exceptional. Even after the development of alternative methodologies, the individual artist survives, even thrives, as the focus of monographic exhibitions, books and articles, in the media, press and through gallery and museum displays. But if art histories of groups and movements have put those individuals into one kind of setting, it is much rarer to consider them as whole populations.

Yet populations and mass data – artists considered in aggregate as an occupational class and as collections, organisations and networks – have come to the fore in recent and emerging scholarly research work. New ways of thinking about artists as a group have been facilitated by innovation in gathering and assessing mass data about artists’ lives and careers. Previously neglected source materials, including exhibition catalogues, commercial directories, census records and news media, can now be interrogated more readily, and in revealing ways.

What does it mean to think about art history beyond the singular; to think about the mass rather than the individual, about patterns and populations? And how do artistic populations represent or intersect with the larger, political entities – community, class, nation? How might art-historical research mirror, extend or interrogate the instruments of data collection used in other contexts, including audits, censuses and surveys? Why perform this kind of historical work? What do we need this research for? What is gained and what is lost when focusing on the “mass” rather than the singular “case”? What does thinking about mass data do in relation to the canon? Does it destabilise, extend or amplify? How is mass data reshaping the discipline of art history itself?

This online workshop will consider such questions through a series of presentations delivered online, which will include presentations, demonstrations of databases, visualisations and online resources, discussions and debates.


12.00 noon–12.15pm: Welcome by Martin Myrone and Sarah Turner (Paul Mellon Centre)

12.15pm–1.45pm: Panel 1: Chair: Martin Myrone (Paul Mellon Centre)

12.15pm–12.30pm: Anita Gowers and Paul Wilson: “Why Art History Needs Data Science”

12.30pm–12.45pm: Shane Morrissy: “Digital Humanities as a Fundamental Methodological Approach: A Case Study of the Postcard Craze”

12.45pm–1.00pm: Hannah Jacobs, Paul Jaskot and Lee Sorensen: “The Dictionary of Art Historians: Studying Art History at Scale”

1.00pm–1.45pm: Q&A

1.45pm–2.15pm: Break

2.15pm–3.45pm: Panel 2: Chair: Baillie Card (Paul Mellon Centre)

2.15pm–2.30pm: Rhian Addison McCreanor: “Indoor Spaces for Outdoor Minds: Landscape Artists' Studios in London, 1780–1850”

2.30pm–2.45pm: Ming Tiampo, Pansee Abou Elatta, Janneke Van Hoeve and Maribel Urbaneja : “Mobile Subjects, Contrapuntal Modernisms”

2.45pm–3.00pm: Mary Okin: “Challenging the American Art Canon with Mass Data: Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City's Tenth Street Studio Building"

3.00pm–3.45pm: Q&A

3.45pm–4.00pm: Comfort Break

4.00pm–4.30pm: Hans Hönes Contribution

4.30pm–5.00pm: Final Discussion

About the speakers

  • Anita Gowers Square

    Anita Gowers has worked in the higher education sector across a range of disciplines, from neuroscience to the creative industries. She is currently undertaking an Art History PhD on the Australian picture framing industry at the Australian National University. Her research methodology involved building a graphic database using Neo4j to find connections across heterogenous data sources.

  • Paul Wilson square images

    Paul Wilson focuses on applying technologies to advance our individual and collective thinking and performance. He has produced data analysis and visualisations for projects on accelerating technology adoption, industry change, future skills, large historical data sets, community initiatives, and more. He has authored postgraduate courses on technology, leadership and data science.

  • Shane Morrissey head and shoulder photos

    Shane Morrissy is a PhD candidate in the department of Art, Art History and Visual Studies at Duke University. His dissertation explores the cultural significance of the postcard craze in America in the context of the political economy of the Progressive Era. His project seeks to integrate an object-based, art historical approach with tools and techniques offered by the digital humanities. Shane is an active author for the online Dictionary of Art Historians and the current project manager of Digital Public Buildings North Carolina – which explores the political history of major public building types in North Carolina, such as prisons and courthouses, from the early Republic to today – at Duke’s Digital Art History and Visual Culture Research Lab.

  • Hannah L. Jacobs Headshot

    Hannah L. Jacobs is Digital Humanities Specialist for Duke University’s Digital Art History & Visual Culture Research Lab. She is also studying for a Masters in Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At Duke, Hannah supports teaching and research in the lab through consultations with faculty and students; assignment design; creating tutorials and workshops; and collaborating with several lab projects, including the Dictionary of Art Historians. She teaches Introduction to Digital Humanities and co-teaches the Digital Humanities Proseminar. Areas of expertise include project management, digital pedagogy, historical data and interactive web and visualisation methods.

  • Paul Jaskot Square

    Paul Jaskot is Professor of Art History & German Studies at Duke University. He is the Co-Director of the Digital Art History & Visual Culture Research Lab. Jaskot’s scholarship focuses on the long history of Nazi cultural policy in inter-war and post-war Germany. He has also authored articles on, and advocated for, the critical social art historical implications for digital humanities in art history. He teaches courses in these areas, among others, and is co-teaching the Digital Humanities Proseminar.

  • Lee Sorensen square

    Lee Sorensen received his graduate degrees in art history and library science from The University of Chicago. Together with Lawrence Clark Powell he co-authored Determined Donor. He is librarian and bibliographer at Duke University and the founder and co-editor of the Dictionary of Art Historians.

  • Head and shoulders portrait of Rhian Addison4424col

    Rhian Addison McCreanor is an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) collaborative PhD student between the University of York and Tate Britain researching landscape artists’ studios in London, 1780–1850. Rhian was awarded funding by the PMC to co-convene The Spatial Eighteenth Century: Rethinking Urban Networks and Maps, 1650–1850 (November 2021) and a Research Support Grant (2020) to develop case studies on George Morland and John Constable. Rhian was formerly Curator (Historic Fine Art) at the Whitworth, University of Manchester and Assistant Curator at Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village. In 2019 Rhian served as a UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) policy intern at the National Archives reporting to Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on whether current export policies are fit to protect digital cultural assets. Rhian has also completed her Project Management Qualification and Associateship of the Museum Association.

  • Headshot of Ming Tiampo, wearing a black shawl, in front of a red earthy background at Venice Biennale 2022

    Ming Tiampo is Professor of Art History, and co-director of the Centre for Transnational Cultural Analysis at Carleton University. She is interested in transnational and transcultural models and histories that provide new structures for understanding and reconfiguring the global. She has published on Japanese modernism, global modernisms and diaspora. Tiampo’s book Gutai: Decentering Modernism (University of Chicago Press, 2011) received an honourable mention for the Robert Motherwell Book award. In 2013, she was co-curator with Alexandra Munroe of the AICA award-winning Gutai: Splendid Playground at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Her current book projects include Transversal Modernisms: The Slade School of Fine Art, a monograph which reimagines transcultural intersections through global microhistory, and Intersecting Modernisms, a collaborative sourcebook on global modernisms. Her latest book, Jin-me Yoon, is forthcoming with Art Canada Institute in 2022. Tiampo is an associate member at ici Berlin, a member of the Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational Advisory Board, a member of Asia Forum, a founding member of TrACE, the Transnational and Transcultural Arts and Culture Exchange network, and co-lead on its Worlding Public Cultures project.

  • Janneke Van Hoeve

    Janneke Van Hoeve is pursuing her MA in Art and Architectural History, with a specialisation in Digital Humanities at Carleton University. She is a research fellow with the Worlding Public Cultures project and Mobile Subjects, Contrapuntal Modernisms.

  • Maribel Hidalgo Urbaneja square

    Maribel Hidalgo Urbaneja is the Worlding Public Cultures Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Chelsea College of Arts at the University of the Arts London. She has a PhD in Information Studies from the University of Glasgow and has held positions in digital departments at the Getty and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

  • Mary Okin

    Mary Okin recieved her PhD in History of Art and Architecture at UC Santa Barbara in 2022 and is a lecturer at San Jose State University, specialising in the history of American art and digital humanities. Her work primarily concerns American painting and women artists, and explores issues of canon formation and the local. Her current projects include Mining @ Tenth Street: Visualizing New York City's Tenth Street Studio Building, a digital humanities project she started developing in 2018, and her dissertation, Painting in Place: Wayne Thiebaud in Postwar American Art, the first book-length study of the American painter Wayne Thiebaud (1920–2021).

  • Hans Hones head and shoulders portrait wearing blue suit jacket

    Hans C. Hönes is Senior Lecturer in art history at the University of Aberdeen. He has published extensively on art historiography since the eighteenth century, and has written and edited books on: Heinrich Wölfflin (Wölfflins Bild-Körper, 2011), eighteenth-century antiquarianism (Kunst am Ursprung, 2014), and art history and migration (Migrating Histories of Art, co-ed. 2019), among others. A new biography of Aby Warburg (Tangled Paths. A Life of Aby Warburg) will be published by Reaktion Books in spring 2024. His research in the history of art history in Britain was supported by a Research Collections Fellowship 2021/22 by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.

  • Square image of PANSEE ELATTA

    Pansee Atta is an Egyptian-Canadian visual artist, curator, and researcher living and working on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishnaabe nation in Ottawa. Using a variety of new media, her work examines themes of representation, migration, archives, and political struggle.

    Previous residencies include the Impressions Residency Award at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, the SparkBox Studio Award, and at the Atelier of Alexandria. Previous exhibitions have taken place in collaboration with SAW Video in Ottawa, at Galerie La Centrale Powerhouse and Z Art Space in Montréal, the Art Gallery of Mississauga, and other contemporary Canadian arts spaces. Her curatorial projects include UTOPIAS, a community-based performance art festival in Kingston, Ontario, and Home/Making, an exhibition at the Canada Council Art Bank. Her ongoing research and activist practice centers community-based responses to colonial projects of collection, display, study.