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Dr. Maximilian Schich, EODIAH Acting Assistant Director

Activities

Maximilian Schich is currently finalizing a book manuscript Outlining a Systematic Science of Art and Culture [working title]. Dealing with substance, relations, and dynamics in art and cultural production, the book builds on two decades of work, including the study of art history and classical archaeology, a first decade of consulting practice dealing with large graph databases, and a second decade of multidisciplinary collaborative research in complex network science and cultural analytics. 

The book narrative is rooted in a corpus of 1200 unique scientific figures produced by the author. These figures will be made available as a separate product. The book text targets a broad audience, including lay persons, students, humanists, and multidisciplinary scientists alike. 

Ongoing collaborative research under the leadership of Maximilian Schich includes the computational analysis of Chromatic Structure and Family Resemblance in Large Art Collections, in collaboration with research assistant Loan Tran (UT Dallas MA 2018), and computer scientists Prof. Jevin West and PhD student Poshen Lee (both at the University of Washington, Seattle). 

The project uses Deep Learning, i.e. a machine learning method that is capable to identify polymorphic similarities in large amounts of visual material. The art collections under investigation range from sets of several hundred, to hundreds of thousands of images. The research aims to deepen our understanding regarding the morphological structure of collections, to facilitate curatorial decisions, and to provide alternative experiences of collections as whole. 

Preliminary results have been presented at the Digital Humanities conference, a KDD workshop, and a workshop of the National Academy of the Sciences. The project is supported by the KRESS Foundation.

In October 2018, Maximilian will bring together a group of collaborators for several days to further investigate the Evolution of the Paris Salon, including art historian Debbie DeWitte PhD (UT Dallas), art historian Diana Greenwald PhD (Oxford University, currently National Gallery, Washington), physics PhD student Artem Bolshakov (UT Dallas grad, now Cornell University), and physicist Prof. Gourab Ghoshal (Rochester University). The project aim is to amalgamate classic qualitative art history approaches with quantitative methods of complexity science to study the evolutionary dynamics of topics in the Paris Salon. 

The study covers 158,000 artworks exhibited over the span of two centuries. Preliminary results have been presented at NetSci and the inaugural conference of the Cultural Evolution Society.

During the 2018/2019 academic year, Maximilian Schich is further involved as the Acting Assistant Director of EODIAH, supervising the ongoing ISAAC program, and further nurturing the understanding of art history with the means of science. The Institute for the Study of American Art in China (ISAAC) is an initiative supported by the Terra foundation, hosting a number of fellows from Nanjing University at the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History. 

Feeding into a multidisciplinary science of art and culture, Maximilian will gather small groups of collaborators in project-focused sessions, as exemplified above, and teach a course to introduce cutting-edge approaches in “Data-driven Art History” within the EODIAH master program in the 2019 Spring semester.

Lectures

On Friday, November 2, 2018, Maximilian Schich is invited, together with Suzanne Preston Blier (Harvard) and Matthew Lincoln (Carnegie Mellon), to present at the annual Arpeggio symposium at the Collision Space at Duke University. Feeding into the common topic of “Quantity+Quality”, Schich will give a presentation titled “Embracing Confusion: Quantity as Quality”.

On Monday, November 19, 2018, Maximilian Schich is invited to present a lecture in the MTS speaker series in the Northwestern University program in Media, Technology & Society, which “hosts distinguished and exceptional scholars from a wide range of disciplines”.