September 4, 2008

Ryo Akama (Day 1, Part 1)

Ryo Akama (Professor, Graduate School of Letters, Ritsumeikan University)

Roles of Image Databases in Art and Cultural Research 

Without having some personal and/or research connections, researchers outside often have a hard time conducting research on artworks and artifacts, housed in museums. They have to wait for museum exhibitions to get access to the collections. As for the museums, they have their own responsibilities to identify their collections and to restore them. Collection owners have their “ownership,” thus “privilege to control collection information.” In short, all these responsibilities and rights had made our academic environment exclusive. A breakthrough to it was made by publicly accessible online databases of museum collections, which collection owners started to regard as an ace card to win operational cost or a litmus test, thus, an urgent issue in many countries.
With the online databases, researchers without particular personal connections came to possess enormous volume of information. What we have to think about now is how to make their research outcomes public and share information while paying back to collection owners who waived their privilege to control collection information. Taking a case of the ukiyo-e database I developed, I would like to suggest a few ways to do it.