Jan 15, 2011 — Call for Proposals: NEH Summer 2011 Vectors-CTS Summer Institute on Digital Approaches to American Studies
Another new Scalar project: The Knotted Line, a “tactile laboratory” created by artist/educator Evan Bissell that explores the nature of freedom and confinement in the United States. True to its name, The Knotted Line represents the intertwined histories of incarceration, education and labor through a collection of miniature paintings by Bissell depicting over 50 historical moments, all connected by a flowing, interactive line that can be pushed, pulled, and opened to reveal the imagery and content inside. This dynamic interface, designed and developed by Vectors’s creative director Erik Loyer, is almost wholly driven by material authored in Scalar—the first project to use Scalar in this way.
Each painting of The Knotted Line is annotated with brief glosses which introduce the historical event it depicts, and then link to an expanded treatment of the event in Scalar’s native reading interface, featuring embedded videos, images, and resources for educators. The complete timeline, which focuses on the geographical area of the United States, covers over 500 years of history, including some hopeful speculation about future events.
The Knotted Line shows the versatility of Scalar in the way in which it uses the same store of content to drive radically different, yet complementary presentations. Scalar’s ability to add arbitrary metadata using popular ontologies like Dublin Core and ArtSTOR made it possible to include the temporal and spatial coordinates needed by the tactile interface, while still keeping content visible and editable within Scalar’s default presentation.
Because of the visual, pedagogical, and historical nature of its content, The Knotted Line represents a dataset with its own creative potential for remix and reuse. To encourage this, the project’s creators have included a “Data Sources” path which explains where to find useful resources like 300 dpi versions of each painting, an XML file that defines every point of the “knotted line” itself, and more—a great example of how the open access philosophy behind Scalar enables projects to function simultaneously as publications, websites, archives, and services. As a result, the potential exists to reformat The Knotted Line as a poster, a game, or some unforeseen mashup with another data source; we’re excited by the possibilities.
— Tara McPherson, May 3rd, 2012
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