UCL Centre for Digital Humanities


More than the eye can see: Digital Humanities spectral imaging

28 October 2015, 5:30 pm–6:30 pm

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UCL Centre for Digital Humanities
Gower Street
United Kingdom

Building on advances in imaging technology, teams of specialists have refined spectral imaging capabilities and adapted them to meet the needs of cultural heritage and digital humanities (DH) research. Proven advanced spectral imaging equipment, techniques and work processes have become standardized tools to support cultural heritage studies of manuscripts, materials and objects. University College London and other institutions are advancing spectral imaging and digitization capabilities for cultural heritage studies. Advanced imaging systems allow studies of the overall object, as well as specific key areas of interest, with transfer of digital data to DH scholars, curators and conservators for further evaluation and study.

Spectral imaging and digitization now provides important data for study in institutions ranging from the ancient library of St. Catherine's Monastery of the Sinai and the Vatican Apostolic Library to the Petrie Museum (UCL), Library of Congress and private collections. Wherever they are located and whatever culture they represent, each institution is grappling with the challenges of preserving digital information for future generations and making it available for free access.

Effective spectral imaging requires not just collection of quality images, but the ability to manage and exploit large amounts of integrated data and metadata for cultural heritage studies. A medium-format monochrome camera takes a series of high-quality digital images, each illuminated by a specific wavelength of light from low-heat LED light sources. Digitally processing and combining the resulting image set can reveal important features on the objects that are not visible to the eye in natural light. Data management, operation, training, information storage and access are required for the collaborative analysis of the images and image products from the spectral imaging system. Data collected in standard formats can be made available for access and sharing for further analysis. With common standards and techniques, this can include collaboration with other DH studies and data. Integration is also possible with other standard digital images or data collected with other camera systems and scientific instruments, as is being done with mummy masks at UCL.

The notes for this seminar are available below:

Speaker's bio: Mike Toth integrates and manages new technologies for digital study, access and preservation of cultural objects, including in the Walters Art Museum, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and British Library. In partnership with DTEK, Phase One and Equipoise Imaging, he is supporting the integration of spectral imaging systems into digital humanities studies and institutions.

All welcome and there will be drinks and discussion after the talk. Please note that registration is required.