Currently, the first test for Arcades is a crowdsourcing project to identify cataloging data for the D. James Dee Archive. The project involves a trove of nearly 125,000 uncataloged photographs of contemporary art exhibited in New York City from the 1970s until 2013, when Artstor acquired the archive. You can read more about the Dee Archive in the New York Times and on the Artstor Blog. Mr. Dee, the “SoHo Photographer,” worked for hundreds of galleries and artists for nearly 40 years. The archive contains images of works by major artists including Jean Michel Basquiat, Agnes Martin, Peter Halley, Robert Rauschenberg, Elizabeth Murray, Sue Coe, Joseph Beuys, and many others. His clients included Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, Paula Cooper Gallery, Holly Solomon Gallery, and OK Harris.
Arcades applies the concept of gaming to crowdsourcing. It offers a simple gaming platform that allows users to enter terms for a selection of key fields to help identify individual works, including Title, Artist, Date, and Gallery. Users are given points for each field of data entered and can progressively level up through prestigious titles, ranging from “flâneur” to “master.” You receive more points if an artist name, title, or other term matches a previous response. This matching is the key to crowdsourcing data—the more users, the more matches, the better the data. Using a combination of data and expert analysis, Artstor staff will periodically publish sufficiently cataloged images in the Artstor Digital Library, where they will be available for teaching and research to over 500,000 educational users at 1,700 colleges, universities, schools, and museums around the world.
User testing is now underway and will last until the early fall. Depending on what we learn, we may eventually expand the capacity of Arcades to draw upon the authority files and thesauri in the Shared Shelf vocabulary warehouse or others available via Web services.
It will take a village to identify the thousands of incredible works pictured in the Dee Archive. Will you help us? Sign up now, invite your students, friends, and colleagues, and help us catalog what is perhaps the most comprehensive collection of contemporary art exhibited in New York City. We welcome your feedback about Arcades: is it easy to use, are there more fields or features you’d like to see, and is it fun?