When it comes to modern warfare, we’ve seen so much through photographs: mass graves, explosions, the faces of soldiers the instant they’re shot. And we’ve also seen the aftermath of war–devastated landscapes, soldiers carrying their dead, and returning home to their families. We’ve become accustomed to a depth of visual coverage that has brought deep familiarity with the realities of war from start to finish, a stark contrast to the experience of civilian audiences prior to the advent of photography. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Humanities & Social Sciences’ Category
Take a deep breath, the presidential debates are finally over. But brace yourselves, we still have a couple of weeks of campaigning left until the actual elections. Why the negative tone? Well, the Washington Post reported that “59 percent of Americans are sick and tired of the election”–and that was way back in July! And we’re not just sick and tired, we’re also stressed: in a more recent poll by the American Psychological Association, 52 percent of American adults said the upcoming election is a significant source of stress.
Can we interest you in a tour of more innocent days from Cornell University’s Political Americana Collection in Shared Shelf Commons? Days in which campaigns featured such lighthearted items as songs like “Grant is the Man,” promoting Ulysses S. Grant, or “Let’s O-K, I-K-E,” about Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower.
In 1862, amateur photographer William H. Mumler of Boston took a self-portrait in his studio, unaware of a ghostly apparition lurking directly behind him. It wasn’t until he viewed the resulting image of a pellucid arm draped casually across his shoulder that he realized the camera must have exposed the lingering spirit of his deceased cousin. With this eerie, novel image, Mumler, a jewelry engraver by trade, became the first of many photographers to claim having photographed a spirit. Photographs like Mumler’s provided timely evidence that spirits of the deceased freely interacted with the world of the living–a discovery he would milk for profit within the framework of the Spiritualist movement.
In 1846, dentist William T. G. Morton assembled a group of doctors in the operating theater at Massachusetts General Hospital, a sky-lit dome located on the hospital’s top floor. As the doctors watched from the dome’s stadium seating, Morton waved a sponge soaked in a mysterious substance called Letheon inches from his patient’s face. The patient quickly lost consciousness and remained completely still as a surgeon removed a tumor from his neck. Upon waking, the patient declared to his astonished audience that he had felt no pain. This surgery marked the first time the effective and safe use of anesthesia was demonstrated publicly, ending centuries of agonizing pain during surgery. It would also quickly spiral into a dramatic controversy surrounding Letheon’s discovery.
We are introducing a new resource featuring more than 75 images on the topic of biomimicry. Find it in the Artstor Digital Library’s Teaching Resources area: Teaching Resources > Case Studies > STEM to STEAM > Stem to Steam: The Anatomy of Design
Throughout history we have looked to nature to define and devise systems of design. Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man embodies the dominance of the concept of anthropomorphic balance during the Renaissance. The perfect proportions of man are contained within the ideal geometric shapes of the square and the circle, as if the artist had given graphic proof to the metaphysical declaration of the Greek philosopher Protagoras: man is the measure of all things. Consider our units of measurement, such as the foot and the cubit (from the Latin for forearm) established by the ancients, the braccio (Italian for arm), the pouce (French for thumb, meaning inch), whereby mathematical ratios in architecture were based on the proportions of the human figure.
These photographs of six members of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Paleontology staff sitting inside the massive jaws of a Carcharocles megalodon are the stuff of nightmares—and, of course, just the thing for Shark Week.
Yet, as Brian Switek writes on ScienceBlogs, they’re the result of a miscalculation. “[T]he famous jaws were reconstructed by assuming that the teeth of the extinct shark would have had the same proportions to the jaw as in the living great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), yielding a maw that would have fit a shark 100 feet long or more.”
On May 5th, Merete Sanderhoff, curator and senior advisor at the National Gallery of Denmark (Statens Museum for Kunst), presented “Sharing is Caring” (you can see her slides here) at the Artstor offices for a group of professionals in the arts and cultural heritage fields, as well as members of the American Friends of SMK. We took the opportunity to do a brief interview.
Artstor: The SMK is working towards releasing its digitized collections into the Public Domain. How does that fit in with the museum’s mission?
MS: The museum is a public institution, and we see ourselves not as the owners but as stewards of our collections. We believe these collections are for everyone, so making them freely available very naturally aligned with our mission.
It’s also a way to show the breadth and depth of our collection, instead of just the canon. The Rijksmuseum provided a great example: they have gone the farthest in making their public domain materials free and providing the tools to work with them, and today everything they have online is being seen and used. It’s the Long Tail in action—the more obscure works get much fewer views than the peak, but together the views of the lesser-known works add up to much more than for the canon.