Integrating digital systems into what has been historically considered analog pursuits has forced many humanists to learn completely unintuitive skills. It is this flexibility to both adopt new tools and critically interrogate them, that is at the center of digital humanities.
Following the first wave of digitisation initiatives (in DH and beyond), we have now come to a point where making sense of the ever increasing bodies of data available is proving to be as challenging a problem as it was to first work with data sets and databases. Visualisation —as a technology, a practice, and a concept— is becoming increasingly important as we face the challenges posed by large bodies of data and their intricate structures.
At the same time, as the humanities place in academia is also under pressure, researchers are increasingly expected to make their work available to wider audiences. At this juncture we believe the digital humanities can offer a productive bridge with the arts, where audience is a more familiar term; from plays, to sculpture, to museum exhibits, and computer games, the arts are deeply invested (and often better equipped) to express what it is to be human to larger sections of society.
Visualisation can turn alienating graphs and tables into something with an aesthetic appeal that draws the observer in and engages them directly. Projects like Mapping the Republic of Letters turned what would be a traditional long, slow march through digitised content into a more intuitive journey around a familiar map. Furthermore, projects that deploy visual modes of knowledge production are ideal to interrogate how we assign value to visual representations. From the data-driven film fact-checking of Based on a True True Story? To the paper rendering of complex scientific discovery in the Higgs Boson number of Le Monde.
In this edition of the New Perspectives conference, we would like to explore how visualisation is, quite literally, shaping the future of research in the humanities and across disciplines. If this sounds enticing, we want to hear from you: registration and call for papers is now open!