Libre Graphics Meeting 2016


Last month, Sebastian, Moritz and I attended the Libre Graphics Meeting and gave a paper about Artivity. The paper was received very well and we did have a short discussion about the project following the presentation. Two issues were raised:

  • Privacy: there were concerns about the fact the Artivity captures private data. In fact, this is the most frequent concern raised when I describe the software to colleagues. The answer is simple: Nothing leaves the computer without the user's explicit request. Artivity collects private data. This is the point of the software: it collects data automatically so that the user does not have to do it manually. But nothing is stored online. This is no different to many other applications storing personal data on the user's computer account. Transmitting this data to a server on the Internet will be possible once the development cycle finishes, but this will have to be setup by the user, if the user wishes to share their data. There is a growing community of artists who share their work openly (for example the group photo from the LGM shown here was shot by Peter Westenberg and shared under the Free Art License) and therefore having the option to share Artivity data does make sense. It also makes sense in a large institution context when collective reporting of creative work is required.
  • Interpretation: another interesting point was raised which has to do with the interpretation of artistic process by a researcher looking back at the data captured by Artivity about an artist's work. The point being that this interpretation is too subjective. Indeed, the data collected by Artivity does not tell a story. A researcher looking at the data in relation to the finished artwork and trying to make sense of it all builds a narrative of an interpretation. But this is how art historians work when working with conventional archives. They typically identify a starting point with a suggestion and then look at archives to support this. Subjectivity and interpretation is present in art history anyway. What Artivity tries to do it to bring this practice to digital art and make sure that when art historians in the future require evidence to support their narratives, Artivity can provide these.

Sebastian and Moritz also joined the Inkscape hackathon before the LGM and got some critical work done which would allow a pluggable interface for Inkscape. This means that Artivity will be able to support Inkscape in the form of a plugin and without having to alter the Inkscape core files (which means much faster compiling times).

Next LGM is in Rio.

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