Cultural history doesn’t have to be dusty or boring or stuck behind a glass wall, says TEDxBSEL speaker Helene Hahn. Hahn is just one of many people involved in OpenGLAM, an effort to open up and revive troves of data from galleries, libraries, archives and museums by transforming them with 21st century technology.
Artifacts of culture — whether paintings, photographs, books, drawings, films or music — should be open to all, Hahn says, but, unfortunately, a lot of this data is closed off, Hahn explains, whether in a faraway city or buried in an archive or off display. “Sometimes we have to travel to see artworks and other times we’re asked to pay admission,” she says. “And there’s a big chance that we’ll miss all of those objects not displayed currently in an exhibition.”
What is changing this is digitization, Hahn says. “To create the highest possible inclusion of the many, not the few, [we must digitize collections], so nobody gets shut out,” she says. And as galleries, libraries, archives and museums digitize, they open up whole new life for their collections, she says, built from new technology.
Hahn is the leader of one of the movements that gives new lives to aged culture – Coding da Vinci. Coding da Vinci is an annual hackathon and contest that gives decades-old data to hackers, designers and technologists, asking them to play and create. This leads to things like a smartphone app that scans and plays rolls of pianola music or a crank camera that lets people insert themselves into 100-year-old film footage and share it via QR code.
These creations — born at Coding da Vinci and beyond — make culture “more hear-able, touchable, tangible for everyone,” Hahn says. They take a 16th century oil painting and hook it up to a joystick or imbue a maps app with images of a city’s past.
“By bringing together people who love being creators, who love culture, with people who love code, who love technology, we want to foster and exchange experiences and make culture more tangible and interactive for everyone.”
For more, watch Hahn’s whole talk below:
Insight from the TEDx office — why we like this talk:
The speaker presents an idea — that digitization can facilitate new life for archives and collections — rooted in concrete examples, her professional experience and area of study. She speaks passionately and clearly, and cements her idea with vibrant video and direct language.