Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Reliving the past through virtual exhibits

As she entered the final year of her undergraduate degree, Tiffany Chan wanted to expand beyond research essays.

Using the concepts and skills she learned at the inaugural Digital Humanities Field School at the Bader International Study Centre last summer, Chan researched and created a virtual exhibit using materials from the “Stereoscopic Views” collection in the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library.

[Tiffany Chan]
Tiffany Chan (Artsci'15) took advantage of Inquiry@Queen's earlier this year to explain the virtual exhibit she created using material from the W.D. Jordan Special Collections and Music Library.

“I am drawn to the digital humanities by the idea of ‘making’ – the idea that you can learn and create new knowledge by creating digital or physical objects,” she says. “I really enjoy the creativity, some might say the ‘artistry,’ involved in digital humanities projects as well as the research aspects, though I don’t necessarily think of them as separate.”

Chan successfully applied for a student assistantship position in the library that was offered to digital humanities field school participants. Alvan Bregman, Curator, Special Collections, worked with Shannon Smith, director of the field school, and instructor Emily Murphy to develop meaningful projects and learning outcomes for the student assistant. Dr. Bregman and Ms. Murphy co-supervised Chan while Dr. Smith continued to provide guidance during the project.

“It was delightful having Tiffany at work in our library, where she helped make our stereo view cards accessible as a digital collection, an activity that provided context for her virtual exhibit,” Dr. Bregman says. “This was a great demonstration project for the library, showing the intrinsic importance of special collections to digital scholarship."

Chan explored in-depth six of the 108 stereo cards held in the Queen’s collection. Each section of the virtual exhibit features images of the stereo card’s front and back, the socio-historical context, and an animated GIF that approximates the 3D effect of the stereoscope.

Rather than perfectly recreate the experience of a stereo card with her virtual exhibit, Chan was interested in exploring relationships between digital and analog media, past and present perspectives, and what that says about the culture experiencing them.

After spending hours on the project in addition to her course work, Chan showcased her work at the Inquiry@Queen’s Undergraduate Research Conference in March and the Re:Humanities undergraduate symposium on digital media at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

Chan is excited about Queen’s support for digital humanities and the possibility of a Centre for Digital and Print Culture in Douglas Library – one of the recommendations in the Library and Archives Master Plan.

Learn more about digital humanities at the BISC.