Keith Hautala

By

College: Engineering

Bringing Humanity's Treasures to a Worldwide Audience

Published: Nov 15, 2013

 

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 15, 2013) — University of Kentucky computer scientist Brent Seales wants to use 21st century technology to preserve the treasured relics of humanity and make them accessible to a wider audience of scholars.

 

Seales, professor and chair of the College of Engineering's Department of Computer Science and former director of UK's Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments (Vis Center), uses state-of-the-art scanning techniques to produce high-resolution digital facsimiles of ancient artifacts. His work in applying computational techniques to problems in the humanities has brought him into contact with world-class museums and scholars on three continents. His early work included a project with the British Library working with digital images of the Beowulf manuscript. Subsequent projects included 3-D scanning of petroglyphs in Puerto Rico and the development of the use of micro-CT for digitization of damaged antiquities such as carbonized papyrus scrolls.

 

In 2007 Seales and his research team were allowed access to the Venetus A, the oldest known complete copy of the Iliad located in Venice, Italy.

 

"One of the goals of digitizing that manuscript was to make it globally accessible via the Internet, but we also wanted to combine the 3-D shape, the photography and the ultraviolet photography into one representation that could be manipulated and enjoyed by scholars," Seales said.

 

Later research trips to England, Spain and Taiwan have offered the opportunity to digitize additional antiquities. In many cases, the documents that Seales deals with are so fragile that digital scanning offers the best hope of preserving their contents for future generations of scholars, before they are lost to the withering effects of time.

 

Some imaging techniques, for example using x-rays or ultraviolet light, can reveal content that cannot be discerned with the naked eye. Under funding from the National Science Foundation Seales' EDUCE project (Enhanced Digital Unwrapping for Conservation and Exploration) sought to create readable images of texts such as papyrus scrolls, without opening them, using minimally invasive scanning and virtual unwrapping.

 

"It's important for the oldest things, for the most damaged things, for the things that tell us information that we haven't seen before," Seales said. "It's so important to capture that."

Ultimately, Seales believes that these and other precious cultural artifacts need to be made accessible to a wider audience of scholars, rather than being hidden away in a vault somewhere.

 

"When it comes right down to it, who really 'owns' a manuscript that was handwritten by monks more than 1,200 years ago?" Seales asks. "I think most of us, in academia at least, believe that these belong to humanity."

 

So, when Google Inc. invited Seales to spend a year in Paris as a visiting scientist, he jumped at the chance. In Paris, Seales worked alongside Google engineers on an emerging project called the Google Cultural Institute, which seeks to make precious cultural artifacts available to a global audience by putting them on the Internet.

 

For example, if you search Google for "The Starry Night," the results will include a Google "information card" about the Van Gogh painting. Click on the thumbnail photo and you'll be taken to a virtual Museum of Modern Art exhibit, part of the Google Cultural Institute. The exhibit includes a gigapixel-resolution composite image (made up of more than a billion pixels), which allows users to get a closer-than-in-person view of the painting, revealing tiny bubbles and cracks in the surface of the paint.

 

Seales says the information cards represent, in a small way, the capabilities of the enormous knowledge base that Google is assembling. Like a massive "Facts on File," Google's knowledge base is built to handle millions of billions of pieces of data (petabytes). Mapping out how those pieces of information are connected, and being able to anticipate their relevance in response to a query, is changing the way we think about Web search.

 

"We're moving away from a user submitting a query and the search engine returning a ranked list of documents, and we're starting to think of search as more of a conversation," Seales said. "When you do a Web search, most of the time you aren't looking for a list of documents. You're looking for the answer to a question. It's the difference between me telling you what you want to know, versus me saying 'Here's a stack of books. Look it up.' Really, what we want is for the search results to tell us a story."

 

The Google Cultural Institute provides a robust framework for storytelling, Seales says, allowing content partners and even individual users, to create "compelling and nuanced narrative presentations" using multimedia content that resides on Google's servers. The capability already exists for individual users to create their own virtual galleries and tell their own stories. To Seales, this represents the potential to democratize a vast trove of humanity's cultural assets.

 

"The underlying 'stuff,' the source material, I think that should be made available to everybody," Seales said. "What individuals do with it, in terms of their own scholarship, interpretation and presentation of the material, that belongs to them."

 

Seales' work with the Google Cultural Institute included implementation of a "Layers" feature, which enables users to view and compare two pieces of content by virtually stacking them on top of each other and crossfading back and forth between them. An example of the Layers feature, displaying a page of the Saint Chad Gospels as it was imaged across time, can be seen on the Vis Center's site at http://goo.gl/qKaajN.

 

In this coming together of physical, real-world cultural artifacts with modern, digital techniques for preservation, presentation and dissemination, Seales sees nothing short of a revolution in the way we think about research in the humanities:

 

"When you take that technological achievement and you apply it to fundamental problems in the humanities — understanding texts, reading material that's damaged — that broader confluence is fueling a transformation in scholarship that is unprecedented."

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Hautala 859-323-2396; keith.hautala@uky.edu

                                                                    

innovate_seales.jpg
Tags:
March
1
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
2
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Resume & Cover Letters that Work
Mon
3
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Grad Salute
2nd Annual UK Work-Life Summer Camps Fair
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Keeping Your Brain Healthy
Successful Networking & Job Search
Guest Lecture
Documentary Screening: "Forgotten Wars, Forgotten Victims"
Bangladeshi Garment Worker Speak Out
A Reading by Nic Brown
CatWatch Party #3
Tue
4
LNFS Presents: The Mighty Ducks
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Art Therapy Table
OUTspoken with J Mase III
CANCELED: Appalachian Forum with Crystal Wilkinson entitled: Birds of Opulence: Black Women, Madness, and Resilience in Appalachia
Wed
5
LNFS Presents: Typeface
LNFS Presents: Space Jam
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Food for Hope
Thu
6
LNFS Presents: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
LNFS Presents: Pokémon: The First Movie
Cultural Coffee Hour
Grad Salute
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Japan Today
Fri
7
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Karnival Around The World
Graduate & Professional School Prep:KAPLAN Free Practice Test for MCAT and LSAT
PharmD Open House
Sat
8
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
9
Midterm of 2015 Spring Semester
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
GUEST LECTURE
Appalachian Forum with Rebecca Klenk, Topic: Global Uttarakhand: Development, Neoliberalism and Social Justice in Himalayan India
Ballroom Thieves
Mon
10
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: Staying Positive During A Job Search
Massage on the Go #2
Tue
11
LNFS Presents: Only Lovers Left Alive
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Jin Shin Jyutsu Self-Help Class
Leadership Assessment
#TrendingTopics: Immunization
True Songs
Wed
12
LNFS Presents: Into the Woods
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Free Spring Break Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
LNFS Presents: Waiting for 'Superman'
Thu
13
LNFS Presents: Vertigo
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Free Spring Break Shuttle to Blue Grass Airport
LNFS Presents: Trainspotting
Fri
14
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
15
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
16
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Mon
17
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
18
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wed
19
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Thu
20
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Plating Design Demonstration with Dan Wu
Fri
21
Spring 2015 Spring Vacation
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
22
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
23
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
"Thrive: The Kentucky Wine Tradition" Documentary Screening
Mon
24
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Job Club: A Snapshot of the Central Kentucky Labor Market
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Kentucky Teacher's Network Career Fair
Tue
25
LNFS Presents: Rear Window
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Cultural Diversity Festival: Ten Thousand Villages
Virtual Dementia Tour
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Barred for Life: A Conversation on Mass Incarceration
Women of the World: Rosario Dawson
Wed
26
LNFS Presents: The Imitation Game
LNFS Presents: Blade Runner
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Student & Employer Mixer
Young Artists Exhibit Reception
Thu
27
LNFS Presents: Psycho
LNFS Presents: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
UK Woman's Club Craft and Bake Sale
Northeast Florida’s Late Archaic Mortuary Mounds: Memory, Community, and Environment.
Fri
28
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
29
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Lion King Trip
The Voice of Lexington Chinese Singing Competetion
Sun
30
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Mon
31
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
A Reading by Jim Gavin
Tue
 
 
 
 

Repeats every day on January, February, March, April every Tuesday and every Wednesday and every Thursday and every Friday and every Saturday and on the first Sunday until Sun Apr 12 2015 except Mon Jan 12 2015, Mon Jan 26 2015, Mon Feb 02 2015, Mon Feb 09 2015, Mon Feb 16 2015, Mon Feb 23 2015, Mon Mar 02 2015, Mon Mar 09 2015, Mon Mar 16 2015, Mon Mar 23 2015, Mon Mar 30 2015, Mon Apr 06 2015.
Sun, 03/29/2015

Repeats every day until Sun Apr 12 2015 except Mon Feb 02 2015, Mon Feb 09 2015, Mon Feb 09 2015, Mon Feb 16 2015, Mon Feb 23 2015, Mon Mar 02 2015, Mon Mar 09 2015, Mon Mar 16 2015, Mon Mar 23 2015, Mon Mar 30 2015, Mon Apr 06 2015.
Sun, 03/29/2015

Repeats every day until Sun Apr 12 2015 except Mon Feb 09 2015, Mon Feb 16 2015, Mon Feb 23 2015, Mon Mar 02 2015, Mon Mar 09 2015, Mon Mar 16 2015, Mon Mar 23 2015, Mon Mar 30 2015, Mon Apr 06 2015.
Sun, 03/29/2015

Repeats every day until Sun Apr 12 2015 except Mon Jan 26 2015, Mon Feb 02 2015, Mon Feb 09 2015, Mon Feb 16 2015, Mon Feb 23 2015, Mon Mar 02 2015, Mon Mar 09 2015, Mon Mar 16 2015, Mon Mar 23 2015, Mon Mar 30 2015, Mon Apr 06 2015.
Sun, 03/29/2015

Sun, 03/29/2015

Reset Page