Critical Digital Art History: Interface and data politics in exhibitions, museums and collections

Anna Dahlgren, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University,                                

Amanda Wasielewski, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University,

The discipline of art history has long embraced the digitisation of artworks and scholarly resources, but there has also been increased interest in recent years in adopting computational methods. Scholarly activity in this area is commonly labelled ‘digital art history’ and often focuses on practical issues that impact the tasks of collection managers, information specialists and others closely allied with institutions that collect, preserve and govern art-historical collections. This focus on practical concerns means that critical engagement with what digital technology and computational methods imply for art history is often unaddressed. Little attention has thus far been paid to the theoretical and political aspects of mass digitisation in art history and the use of digital tools in museums and collections.

In this session, we seek to theorise and critically analyse the implications of digitisation for our discipline. We particularly invite papers that address these issues from a general, theoretical and critical perspective. This might entail cultural and ideological effects of digital access or the lack thereof, philosophical and theoretical reflections on the epistemologies of digital tools, critical perspectives on digital interfaces for art-historical artefacts, or examinations of specific digital tools and their art-historical contexts. This may also encompass reflections on exhibition practices and notions of art’s audiences in relation to digital interfaces. Moreover, this could include contributions that critically examine visualisation practices in art history and other historiographic accounts of the field in relation to digitisation.

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