First of all I’ve done a quick research about the historical value of the notes. In particular a brief analysis of the Marginalia and the kind of marks used for take it on the ancient manuscripts, like the famous Maniculae (Reinassance Pointing Hands). I’d like to highlight the really interesting book of William H. Sherman about this topic.
I analysed the different way in which Art History students take notes on images and some of the digital supports born with this function. I went to my high school and asked to my ex Art History teacher if I can do an experiment in 3 of her classes for a total of 56 students. She allowed me to collect the spontaneous notes of all the classes in particular conditions. The first phase of my experiment was the observation of the students’ behaviour during their usual method of work, they didn’t know that I observed their work. The teacher usually gave them a photocopy with some artworks that aren’t on the book and they interact with this stuff in different ways. After I collected those notes in order to analyse them.
Then I gave them a questionnaire to understand how they use the three tools for study: the book, the notes and internet. In this phase emerged that the most of them are usually habit to re-write the notes. For this reason I prepare a new sheet on which they can re-write the contents, but at that time the image was isolated, coloured, and in the centre of the sheet (with similar margins around). I observed the changing of them behaviour.
The following is the way in which I analysed all the notes (exercises but also spontaneous). I overwrote these notes by using colours with low opacity with the same degree of brightness but different tone, in order to give them the same hierarchical value perceived by the eye. They’re just different. Each of those colours points out one of the categories of information I found in the analysis which can be textually or visually expressed.
→ methods of disposition the information (linear, non linear, mixed)
→ categories of information and them treatment
→ usage of the image like a reference system
→ usage of the captions if present to pick up informations
→ usage of the margins and the in-between spaces
→ usage of the relation marks (selectors, connectors and highlighters)
→ usage of hierarchy through consistent aggregates
→ usage of drawn reproductions of the image
→ usage of supports further than the only image
Thanks to all the theories I acknowledged in the first two phases and all the needs that came out from the analysis I was able to propose a project. I designed about 60 screens of an iOS iPad app called ἔκfrasi that could allow the students to:
→ add notes on images, not just text but voice notes too (language)
→ add drawn or geometrical notes on images (image structure)
→ deepen all the ID information with the artwork (connections)
→ visualise the notes on image in two screen modality (cognitive style)
→ work in team on an image, with teacher management (share notes)
→ search and compare more images, one near others (awarness)
My goal didn’t include the substitution of the experiences that already work well. The “paper way of study”, according with several researches, lowers the cognitive load and consolidates the knowledge in memory in a way not substitutable yet. My goal was simply to add to the experience of study, something that the paper currently isn’t able to give (yet?).