Peereboom, M. et al., Van Gogh’s Letters: Or How to Make the Results of 15 Years of Research Widely Accessible for Various Audiences and How to Involve Them. In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds). Museums and the Web 2010: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 31, 2010. Consulted April 29, 2010. http://www.archimuse.com/mw2010/papers/peereboom/peereboom.html

Read more: Archives & Museum Informatics: Museums and the Web 2010: Papers: Peereboom, M. et al., Van Gogh’s Letters… http://www.archimuse.com/mw2010/papers/peereboom/peereboom.html#ixzz0mX481a7D
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

This scholarly article from the currently held Museums and the Web 2010 nicely dovetailed into my Olympia project, as the online Van Gogh Letters project played a part in my “inspirational bibliography.”

The paper addresses the 15 years of academic research by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam to the complete Vincent Van Gogh correspondence and documents that were “re-transcribed, annotated, dated, translated” and then digitized.  The collection encompasses 902 letters (819 written by Van Gogh, 83 written to him).  What makes them additionally wonderful are the sketches of his famous works that are embedded in the letters.

A cross-media strategy (in book form and on website), including mixing in new media that included a blog, an iPhone application, and a multimedia tour, the strategy was to bring access and life to Van Gogh’s letters, his world, and the man himself.

The component of the article that was most relevant to the Olympia Project was the discussion on the Van Gogh Blog and its mission to make it current and dynamic by presenting Vincent Van Gogh’s letters as blog postings to be submitted on the month and day of their original writing.  What was quite edifying was their idea of how Van Gogh would address a blog today.  Their answer: “If Van Gogh had been alive today, he would probably have been an active user of blogs and social media.  After all, he wrote very personal letters, often several a day.”  This is was exactly my thought – the critics of the Paris Salon in 1865 would have been blogging like mad, and their denunciation of Manet’s Olympia would have been viral.

The Van Gogh team used WordPress also and attempted to use as many letters with sketches to give visual appeal.  Because his letters were so long, excerpts were provided with links to the Van Gogh Letters website to read further and look at the originals at the same time.  New posts were given notice through RSS Feeds as well as Twitter and Facebook using twitterfeed.com to generate interest into other social network avenues.  The blog was successful in generating as much interest in it as the website of the Van Gogh letters.  A key lesson they learned from the process was that the blog was very time-consuming (can relate) and that a blog can attract a lot of spam (need for anti-spam plugins, Akismet).

One aspect that was not brought up in article though which I observed in visiting the blog was looking at the tag cloud.  Part of my argument or idea for my Olympia blog was that the tag cloud is telling about the discussion and ideas of Olympia.  The same can be said about the things that Van Gogh talked about the most and this I find most fascinating – the primary one being “colour.”  Now, that was very delightful for Van Gogh is not only known for his incredibly tactile brushstrokes, but for his incredible color that sweeps over you and engulfs you.  Also other primary tags were Gauguin, Millet, painting, sky and trees.  How very telling.  That alone can speak yards regarding the content of Vincent Van Gogh’s letters.

Advertisements