The Art of Food

For months I’ve had nothing to really post about. First I was project-less and mostly bored to tears, and who wants to write about that, much less read about it? Then I was TOTALLY SWAMPED and there was no extra time (or energy) left at the end of the day to type something up.

But last week we launched the two big projects that have been filling all of my hours, and I’m extremely proud of both. One was #GettyInspired, which I’ll share more about in another post. The other is the Art of Food Mobile Tour, a web-based hunt designed specifically to complement The Edible Monument exhibition at the Getty Research Institute, and the manuscript exhibition Eat, Drink, & Be Merry at the Getty Museum, both of which opened on October 13th.

The Art of Food Mobile Tour
The Art of Food Mobile Tour

As a scavenger hunt (with prizes!), the content really only makes sense when you’re physically in the galleries, so it has no social media sharing features, and we have yet to figure out how to amend it to make the content evergreen after the exhibitions close in 2016. But I still like sharing it because it was so much fun to build, and its interactivity makes me giddy, remembering all the trials and frustrations I went through to make it work so well.

screencap-voilaOur team–Liz McDermott and Alicia Houtrouw from the GRI; Laura Hubber, Karen Voss, and Cathy Bell from the Museum; and me, from the Web Team–spent about ten months meeting and planning the content for this “tour”, but for my part, I spent about two months building and debugging it. Even though it was specifically built to be used only on mobile devices, and therefore didn’t need to be responsive, I still chose Foundation 5 as its base, so I could use Foundation’s pre-built classes and its sliding menu module.

My favorite function of the site is how it tracks every.single.thing you click on, and adjusts accordingly. Thanks to jQuery’s super-easy management of localStorage and the gazillion and a half unique IDs throughout the site that are tracked at all times, the site knows when you’ve finished each object and each character, and when you’ve finished all the characters for each exhibition, and it remembers until you reset the game. (The reset link is only on the winner pages.) Probably the hardest part of the build–and certainly the most frustrating–was making the custom jQuery, the animatedCollapse plugin, the auto-scrolling functions and the timers all play well together. It was a rare day when fixing one thing didn’t break something else.

screencap-em-charactersBut it all came together beautifully, and in plenty of time for the launch date. I learned a LOT about jQuery’s syntax and methods during this project, and I had fun doing it, which is really the best kind of project.

(Cranach Comparison tool would’ve been sooooo much easier with jQuery, 10+ years ago.)

The boring side of web-work

It’s been a terribly boring month. My cool, awesome projects have either launched, or are still in “committee” (endless meetings banging out the minute details). Instead, I’ve been finishing up the tedious tasks that pop up when you decide to move thousands of video and audio files from one streaming server to another–updating links and embed code, converting old formats to new formats (goodbye, Real Media!), identifying the corrupt files, removing their links and embeds, and trying to keep it all straight in one giganto spreadsheet. Granted, I’ve learned about the Amazon cloud servers and the various different media conversion software options that sometimes recognize Real Media….and sometimes don’t. But mostly I’ve been getting repetitive stress twinges from the constant copying and pasting of filenames and shiny new embed codes.

Awesome. But, somebody’s got to do it.

Now I just have to track down about a hundred source files to replace the corrupt ones. Yay.

Another big launch! Introducing Mellini’s Manuscript in Verse

Last week my team at the Getty launched our latest big project, Pietro Mellini’s Inventory in Verse, 1681. Five years of work, contributing scholars from multiple countries, two different Drupal versions, and development team members coming and going have finally led to this first of its kind (for us, anyway), completely digital publication of scholarly work, which translates and interprets this unique manuscript of the inventory of Pietro Mellini’s art collection, written entirely in verse.

Homepage of Mellini publication
Pietro Mellini’s Inventory in Verse, 1681

The first half of the project that began in 2000, which I did not work on, involved building a scholar workspace in Drupal 6, which enabled the scholars to collaborate on the same material from the comfort of their various countries.

The second half, the part where I came in, was to build a public-facing, fully-annotated and citable digital publication of their work, which we built in Drupal 7.

Easily the two coolest features are the manuscript view pages and the list of artworks page.

The Manuscript Viewer

Mellini / Manuscript page comparison viewer
View each page of the manuscript, compare it to its transcription or English translation, and see the scholars’ notes on particular passages.
  • Visit every page of the manuscript and zoom in to check every little detail of Mellini’s writing.
  • View the transcription and/or English translation of every page.
  • View the different versions side-by-side.
  • Read the scholars’ notes for select passages by clicking on the highlighted selections.
  • Use the linked margin notes to find out more information about each work.

List of Artworks

Mellini / Concordance example
Find out how artworks included in the 1681 inventory compare to how they were listed in the more traditionally documented 1680 inventory of the same collection.
  • Find out what known artwork, if any, the scholars have identified as being part of the Mellini collection.
  • Compare how the same work was described–usually in much more technical detail–in Mellini’s 1680 inventory of the same collection.
  • Use the convenient filters to find out how many works, if any, Mellini owned from your favorite artist.
  • Jump to the Research Notes for each identified or possibly identified image to see more information and provenance.

Five years and the hard work of numerous people went into this publication, but personally I’d like to thank the team members I worked with myself over the past two years–Susan Edwards, Tom Scutt, Ahree Lee, JP Pan, Murtha Baca and Francesca Albrezzi. Hey guys–we did it!

Everyone else: Go see it!

Me, myself and my work