Sounds Like DNA – a new web installation for generative music at UCL

By Nicolas E Gold, on 10 March 2014

As part of our ongoing research and teaching in computer music here at UCL, we’ve been working with a London theatre company, Penny Dreadful Productions.  They have a new show currently touring called How to Be Immortal which presents three true-life stories about love, death and DNA and explores these through music and drama.  It has been developed with input from UCL scientists.  To give an interactive element to accompany the show, we have collaboratively developed an exciting web installation entitled Sounds Like DNA, where you can generate your own music that interprets DNA codes connected with various characteristics set by sliders.  You can reach the installation here:


‘An urban contradiction – journey under the sun’, photography exhibition by a DH student

By Sarah Davenport, on 10 March 2014

Eirene Evripidou, one of our Digital Humanities students, has a photography exhibition and book launch coming up at the Michael Cacoyannis Foundation in Athens.   ‘An Urban Contradiction – Journey under the Sun’ is Eirene’s first photographic exhibition and includes photographs taken in both London and Athens, focusing on the sometimes hidden parts of the urban landscape.

Further details:

An urban contradiction – Journey under the sun

Photography Exhibition by Eirene Evripidou

Official Opening: Tuesday 11 March 2014, at 20:00

Where: Michael Cacoyannis Foundation (Piraeus 206, Tavros) Exhibition Area – 2nd floor

FREE ENTRANCE tel. 0030 210 3418579

Join Historypin and UCLDH to geo-tag artworks from the Imperial War Museums’ First World War art collection.

By Simon Mahony, on 20 February 2014

Historypin is setting up shop in one of the UCL cluster rooms and asking anyone who is interested in crowdsourcing to help with geo-tag 100s of paintings around the globe.

17:30 Wednesday 26th February B29, Foster Court

We have been given access to the Imperial War Museums’ astounding First World War art collection. We need your help to geo-tag these artworks to the locations they depict. No prior knowledge of the First World War needed, just experience with online research and a desire to solve historical mysteries!

A Google, Twitter or Facebook account is all you will need.

This is unique opportunity to participate in an innovative crowd-sourcing and geo-referencing project.

More project details are on the Putting Art on the Map flyer.   

Registration is needed via Eventbrite.

MLA Convention 2014, Chicago

By Sarah Davenport, on 3 February 2014

by Kelli Massa

The MLA (Modern Language Association) Convention was held in Chicago, Illinois, USA from 8 January to 12 January 2014, just days after the first wave of the polar vortex struck North America freezing the shores of Lake Michigan.

frozen lake_foggy chicago








I attended the convention on behalf of UCLDH to present the Digital Humanities MA/MSc programme as part of the Praxis Network. This network represents six different university programmes that specialise in the digital humanities. Universities involved in the Praxis Network span three continents and four countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.

On the Praxis Network Panel, a representative from each university spoke for five minutes about their respective programme and participated in a Q&A session at the end. Prior to the convention, the organiser, Katina Rogers, created a site for the panel where participants added their draft remarks so those attending could have a better understanding of the network and the various university programmes. These can still be found on the panel website. The presentations about various programmes revealed shared struggles with incorporating technology with humanities education and offered different approaches for success.

mla sign chicago








This is a blog entry that includes the twitter feed from the session. However, I must add that it appears this is incomplete as I posted a few tweets about the panel that are not included.

Kelli Massa is a 2013 MSc graduate of the Digital Humanities Programme at UCL. She can be followed on Twitter @kellimmassa.

Centre for Languages, Linguistics & Area Studies e-Learning Symposium

By Chris J Dillon, on 30 January 2014

I attended the LLAS e-Learning Symposium last week in a rather wet Southampton and gave a talk about Bridge to Norway and Bridge to China.

It was an Aladdin’s cave of resources for linguists e.g. #mfltwitterati !

The Stephen Robertson Prize

By Sarah Davenport, on 21 January 2014

UCLDH are pleased to announce the Stephen Robertson prize for the best dissertation in the UCL MA/MSc in Digital Humanities, sponsored by Microsoft.

Stephen Robertson obtained his PhD (on the experimental evaluation of information retrieval systems) from UCL, from what was the School of Library, Archive, and Information Studies (now Department of Information Studies), in 1975. Starting as a part-time student, Robertson was given a Royal Society Scientific Information Research Fellowship in 1973, which allowed him to pursue his PhD and related research interests for five years. Following this, he moved to the Department of Information Science at City University, where he remained for 20 years, with eight as Head of Department, and founding and running a research centre, one of whose research tools was the Okapi system (first an online library catalogue and then a free-text search system, prefiguring the current web search engines). Robertson was recipient of the 1998 Tony Kent Strix Award (from the Institute of Information Scientists, now part of CILIP). In 1998 Robertson moved to Microsoft Research in Cambridge, where he led a small group of researchers in information retrieval, making significant contributions to Microsoft products and services, including the current Microsoft web search system, Bing. The Gerard Salton Award (ACM SIGIR) followed in 2000, and in 2003 he became a Fellow of Girton College, University of Cambridge. Recently retired, Robertson is now Professor Emeritus at City University, and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Computer Science at UCL.

The first recipient of the £500 prize will be named from the finishing cohort of UCL Digital Humanities MA/MSc students in November 2014, and the prize will continue for 5 years in the first instance. We thank Microsoft, and Stephen Robertson, for their generosity.

Affect, Audience Experience and the Digital Humanities

By Vasileios Routsis, on 12 December 2013

Affective Experiences

Authors: Christina Kamposiori & Vasileios Routsis

Monday 9th December 2013 saw our conference ‘Affective Experiences: media art, design & research’ which took place at the Parasol Unit: foundation for contemporary art. This conference was a great opportunity to close the conversations we started on February on the context of the AHRC funded project ‘New Media, Audiences and Affective Experiences’.

Professor Ernest Edmonds

The project aimed to establish a platform for creative dialogue and collaboration for doctoral students from City University London, Kings College London, Middlesex University, New London Graduate School (NLGS) and University College London in the academic fields of Creative Industries and Practice, Art and Design and Digital Humanities. In this context, we were honoured to represent UCLDH as a distinguished partner of this collaborative effort. During the lifetime of the project, we organised three seminars that took place at the City University London, discussing research methods in the direction of understanding audience engagement and cultural experience through digital technologies.

Lars HoeghThrough our one day conference we aimed to bring together artists, PhD students and established academics and researchers from a variety of disciplines, including art and design, cultural and creative industries, media studies, museum studies and the digital humanities. Participants presented their research and discussed new developments on understanding and measuring affect and audience experience in the digital age.

Professor Melissa Terras presenting Textal

In particular, our keynote and panel speakers addressed issues from a wide and diverse spectrum of perspectives, ranging from the theoretical aspects of affect and perception in relation to audience experience to the more practice-based ones. For example, we had the opportunity to hear from artists and museum professionals on the innovative ways they used to engage with audiences, such as interactive installations, experiments and digital applications. In addition, we looked on methodologies and applications for furthering audience/user related-research; that is also when Professor Melissa Terras presented Textal.

Professor Lisa Blackman

Concluding, this conference was a stimulating experience and we hope that the end of this project will be a start for new collaborations and discussions on the issues of affect, audience/user experience and digital technologies in the Arts & Humanities and Culture.


Special thanks to Irida Ntalla, PhD Candidate at City University London (project’s principal co-ordinator), Marianne Markowski, PhD Candidate at Middlesex University (programme committee member), Anastasia-Yvoni Spiliopoulou, UCL Digital Humanities MA Graduate (conference volunteer) and Kathianne Hingwan (conference volunteer) for the great collaboration!

Dawn of a new era as New gTLDs delegated

By Chris J Dillon, on 4 December 2013

img: Eva Perón amid jacaranda trees

Eva Perón amid jacaranda trees

I atttended the recent ICANN meeting in Buenos Aires. It was upbeat as the first New gTLDs (generic Top Level Domains), e.g. .游戏, .онлайн, .みんな and .today have been delegated.
The New gTLDs Program is widely regarded as a success and many are predicting that the new addresses will increasingly displace the old .com addresses.

Further information: ICANN
UCL A&H’s role in all this: UCL press release

At the airport on the way home, it turned out that my passport was somehow unsullied by an entry stamp and so I was lucky to be able to persuade Immigration I wasn’t an illegal in time for the flight.

Announcing Seaha – Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology

By Melissa M Terras, on 22 November 2013


Today, David Willets announced the new set of Centres for Doctoral Training in Engineering Sciences, funded by the Engineering and Physcial Sciences Research Council. We’re really pleased to say that UCL have secured funding for a Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology, which will fund 60 doctoral students in the next 8 years in using advanced technology in the area of cultural heritage. Seaha is EPSRC’s single largest investment to date in heritage science and engineering research.

Led by May Cassar from the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, UCLDH’s own Melissa Terras is one of the UCL Co-I’s, alongside Stuart Robson (Civil and Geomatic Engineering) and Matija Strlic (Bartlett), working in partnership with the University of Oxford (led by Heather Viles) and the University of Brighton (led by David Arnold), as well as a range of industry partners including the Tate, English Heritage, the Natural History Museum, Leica Geosystems and the National Physical Laboratory.

More information is available on the Seaha website, or follow @seahaCDT on twitter. Exciting times!

UCL Connections

By Sarah Davenport, on 5 November 2013

Earlier this year, UCLDH hosted a prize workshop where teams could pitch for £5000 worth of funding to develop a research prototype, which was supported by an award to the Grand Challenges from the UCL Annual Fund, which relies on the contributions of UCL alumni to support scholarships, research and work across UCL. Here we reveal the work of the winning team, comprising of George Neris (UCL Centre for Sustainable Heritage, Bartlett), Jia Liu (UCL Archaeology), and Peter Williams (UCL Information Studies), as they unveil UCL Connections…

UCL Connections project summary

University College London is a world-renowned institution across multiple academic fields. However, as is the case across Higher Education, departments often work in isolation and members of staff and students are disconnected from each other: unaware of the teams and heritage around them. Additionally, the true spirit, the everyday life and the history of UCL is often difficult to portray to the public via current media.

Recent increased availability of the internet and mobile devices provide unprecedented access to information. Companies and institutions are seeking new ways to utilise this technology and improve engagement with both internal and external stakeholders. Despite the ever-expanding pool of digital data and other assets, a physical presence must also be maintained to provide relevance to individuals without access to such digital tools. UCL currently has no tool to unite the physical, digital, resources (internal/external), and personal experience for research, social or promotional purposes.

Considering the problem outlined above, the research aimed to:

  • Create new connections within and outside of UCL – linking the digital and the physical, and the internal and external;
  • Champion the heritage, research and social assets of UCL by uniting the physical and digital, the public and the personal;
  • Establish an innovative, interactive and attractive online system for UCL to interpret and integrate digital and physical assets.

Picture1 connectionsWe developed an online application and User Interface, by utilising UCL-developed software and open-license applications to create a digital map of the university campus. We chose various key physical locations to represent various aspects of the university (heritage, research, leisure etc.) to be the location of ‘connection bubbles’. For a larger project, these will be placed physically at the chosen locations, along with QR Code or similar. For the purposes of this ‘proof of concept’ project, they were situated on a 3D map of the campus which users navigate online.

We started by collecting information on the chosen ‘bubbles’ principally by desk research, although we also interviewed key players such as the Iris database manager, a researcher compiling a ‘Sustainable Living’ resources collection, a representative of UCL Marketing and UCL Volunteering. . All the collected information was organised into a hierarchical schema for uploading onto the database system. The information in the system was then visualised and synthesised with user-friendly UI design.

The final result was a 3D representation on the web of the outside views of Cloisters, the Quad and the street outside. These were superimposed onto a simple Google map. Landmark ‘connection bubbles’ were also overlaid on the map. Once clicked, these appear on a panel on the right side of the screen. Here all layers of information related to the clicked landmark can be found. Some of the landmarks, once clicked, appear directly on the screen as 3D objects (for the purpose of this Minimum Value Prototype one or two objects from the Petrie Collection were thus presented).

Picture2 connectionsUsers can create their own bubbles and upload them, along with relevant information web links, to the project, within predefined categories, similar to the YouTube system. The project holds the Geo co-ordinates of the bubble, its brief description and a web link to the user’s page. All other information will be contained outside the project, in the individual user pages.

We also developed a calendar, where users can see, at a glance, what is happening around UCL on a given date – with a click taking them to the individual web page of the event. We needed, of course, to develop a method for users to upload their event.

In  nutshell, the system enables people to:

  • Access multiple aspects of information in campus, both existing and incoming events: academic events, leisure activities, announcements, landmarks, etc.;
  • Post information by creating new bubbles under customised categories(tags);
  • Create future events by adding date information in the calendar;
  • Add comments for popular events.

The future

In the longer term we hope to establish physical “Totem” sign-posts across campus, indicating and providing information on points of interest. These physical landmarks will be in the form of simple tags, incorporating QR or NFC technology, and/or real totems incorporating same technology. The user, by interacting with the tags/totems through their smartphones will be getting augmented reality information about the referred objects. We also hope to develop an online augmented reality system, allowing users to assign ‘connection bubbles’ to points of interest around UCL and provide tags; comments and media on their related experiences. Regarding the calendar, we are hoping to develop a system whereby the application automatically aggregates data from various sources, primarily UCL Events Calendar.