CAA Panel on Digital Humanities + Islamic Visual Culture – Co-organized with Matt Saba (Aga Khan Documentation Center, MIT Libraries) and sponsored by Historians of Islamic Art Association, this panel brings together emerging and established scholars to highlight current research and perspectives on digital Islamic art history and visual culture.
Mixed Reality & Islamic Visual Culture – Application of mixed reality technologies to teaching and learning Islamic visual culture, with support from Mike Boyd and the University of Edinburgh’s Community Makerspace, the uCreate Studio.
In 2020-21 we are collaborating with Elizabeth Lawrence (Centre for Research Collections) and PhD student Sarah Slingluff (History of Art) on an astrolabe project inspired by the 11th century Cordoban instrument in Edinburgh, which is one of the treasures of the National Museums of Scotland, and by Lawrence’s 2018 Edinburgh Book Festival astrolabe workshop. Our aim is to create a digital model of the NMS astrolabe and a brief viewing guide to explain its significance as a work of medieval Islamic visual culture, along with a durable model of Dominic Ford’s Make-Your-Own astrolabe, which students can use to learn the functions of this important medieval technological device.
Decolonizing Digital Cultural Heritage/ Diversifying Gaming – How can we take knowledge of Islamic visual culture beyond the academy, to decolonize the digital cultural landscape? To diversify gaming? In summer 2020 I explored the issues in the Creative Informatics Creative Bridge pre-accellerator programme, and in a talk for MIT AKPIA.
An Islamicate Celestial Globe in the National Museum of Scotland: Imaging Technologies for Heritage – A joint research initiative between myself and Prof. Melissa Terras (Edinburgh Futures Institute) and Dr. Tayce Phillipson (National Museum of Scotland), our project focuses on an important scientific instrument on display in the National Museum: a seventeenth-century celestial globe bearing an inscription identifying its maker as Diya’ al-Din Muhammad, and its year and place of production, 1074 AH/1663-64 CE in Lahore, in present-day Pakistan.
The project begins in 2020-21 with a postgraduate internship through the School of the History of Art at the University of Edinburgh, to research the materials and techniques of the globe’s facture in preparation for the project’s ultimately aim: to investigate the materiality and craft technique of the object through the heritage application of new digital medical imaging techniques, such as microtomography (Micro-CT) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF). Enabling scholars to ‘see’ inside objects and to determine the elemental composition of materials, such techniques will help us move beyond art history’s traditional emphasis on surface and elements visible to the naked eye, and to construct a more complex object biography for this object, one based on materiality, facture, change and mobility.