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BASC2082 Technology in Arts and Cultural Heritage
Stuart Robson (Dept of Civil Engineering); Tim Weyrich (Computer Science / Digital
Humanities); Tonya Nelson (Museums and Collections) and Mona Hess (Museums and Collections)
Most suitable for:
Cultures or Sciences and Engineering pathways
Mode of assessment:
Term 2 of Year 2
As cultural sector practice becomes increasingly dependent on digital technologies for the production, display and dissemination of art and material heritage, it is important that those working in the sector understand the basic scientific principles underpinning these technologies and the social, political and economic implications of exploiting them. This course aims to provide an intersection between the “Culture” and “Science and Engineering” pathways and prepare students to critically evaluate how technologies can be effectively used to support and advance cultural practice.
The objective of the course is to examine the role technology plays in the development, distribution and preservation of art and material heritage. It will offer a historical view of the relationship between technology and art/cultural heritage and challenge students to use this knowledge to investigate the implications of using new technologies in contemporary cultural practice. For example, students will examine how the invention of the camera spawned both a new form of artistic expression and reproduction method that put concepts of authenticity, originality and authorship into question. Students will then be asked to consider how this learning relates to cultural practice in the digital world.
The course will focus on technological developments in 4 areas: reproduction techniques, colour and light theory, materials/appearance and illustration/abstraction and draw on a range of scientific, philosophical and political text such as Goethe, Walter Benjamin and Marx. It will draw from the UCL Petrie Museum collection for case studies on how technology has influenced cultural practice. For example, within the reproduction strand, students will look at ancient moulds at the Petrie and compare them to 3D digital models of objects created using new imaging technologies. Seminars will mix lectures with visits to the Petrie Museum and other UCL facilities, such as the Digital Manufacturing Centre, where practical applications of technologies can be seen.
The course will be assessed based on coursework that will ask students to examine the dangers and advantages of using new technologies in contemporary culture practice and challenge them to propose practical methods of incorporating technology into cultural practice in a way the considers and accounts for potential ethical, political and/or economic risks.