Jon Saklofske presents at NASSR 2014

Posted by on Jul 15, 2014 in Blog, Conferences, Modeling/Prototyping, News, Projects

INKE Modeling & Prototyping researcher Jon Saklofske recently presented a paper at the NASSR (North American Society for the Study of Romanticism) in Washington DC called: “Digital doors of perception: Illuminating Blake through new knowledge environments.”  The paper discussed ways in which tools like NewRadial draw inspiration from William Blake’s inventive and “tinkering” kinds of creativity and critical questioning.  Details are below:


Saklofske, Jon, and the INKE Research Team. “Digital Doors of Perception: Illuminating Blake Through New Knowledge Environments.” NASSR 2014.  Washington, DC.  10-13 July 2014.


In this paper, I will discuss and demonstrate how the inherent difficulty associated with the unique work and non-traditional production methods of William Blake have prompted me to turn to digital platforms to answer the kinds of research questions that I am posing. I originally used digital technologies to extend my perceptions and to work with specific examples from Blake’s work in ways that traditional research methods and materials did not allow.   Using minimal funding, and hiring an undergraduate programmer, I led the development of NewRadial, a java-based downloadable tool designed to initially sort, browse through, manipulate and comment on William Blake’s iconic pages in a visual environment. Although NewRadial was initially developed as a prototype intended to open new possibilities for traditional critical approaches relating to William Blake’s work, its usefulness beyond specific Romantic period material and related research questions soon became evident. It has since developed into a much more robust new knowledge environment (associated with the INKE MCRI) and has been redesigned as a web-based (HTML5 + javascript) collaboration space that is not only able to more responsibly and rewardingly import and work with a broad variety of humanities database material (including the ARC catalogue), but is also helping to envision new models of inquiry and scholarship. The growth of NewRadial (from a Blake-inspired tool to an environment that is helping to redefine the ways we might engage in scholarly collaboration) is an example of the way that larger methodological initiatives and metacritical ideas can emerge from addressing particular Romantic-period concerns through digital technologies. However, other questions concerning Blake’s work have recently prompted me to develop another small-scale, custom-made, single-purpose tool to enhance and further my critical perceptions in ways that traditional materials and methods cannot. Custom-fade, a basic html tool, allows for image crossfade comparisons between the variants of William Blake’s printed images, and is opening up further possibilities and unique opportunities for critical investigation.


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