Project Bamboo Plans for Arts and Humanities Cyberinfrastructure

Project Bamboo Plans for Arts and Humanities Cyberinfrastructure

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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Participants in Project Bamboo's Tucson workshop, held this week, were invited to view demonstrations at the Computer Center's AZ-LIVE: Arizona Laboratory for Immersive Visualization Environments.
Participants in Project Bamboo's Tucson workshop, held this week, were invited to view demonstrations at the Computer Center's AZ-LIVE: Arizona Laboratory for Immersive Visualization Environments.

Ancient pottery and virtual reality: The two might seem worlds fairly far apart, but The University of Arizona brings them together in AZ-LIVE: Arizona Laboratory for Immersive Visualization Environments, where, in a virtual reality room, one can view and "handle" three-dimensional computer-generated images of artifacts created long before the first computer.

As technology continues to advance, high-tech tools are no longer reserved for the scientific community. The benefits of technological advances have extended to the arts and humanities disciples as well, and the UA is involved in a collaborative planning effort to help professionals in those fields share their modern resources.

Project Bamboo, led by the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Chicago, is a multi-institutional planning effort to determine ways to advance arts and humanities research through the development of shared technology services, or cyberinfrastructure.

"The idea is to create a more coordinated sharing of resources," said T.J. McGreevy, communications officer for University Information Technology Services at the UA. "Each of us as universities has resources available to us, but we don't always have access to other universities and their structures."

An 18-month planning and community design project launched in April 2008, Project Bamboo could help establish ways for institutions to more easily share resources such as digital archives of artwork or photography, McGreevy said.

The hope is that creating more centralized, shared access to digital resources will help to advance research and scholarly pursuits in the arts and humanities.

Project Bamboo will gather input from a variety of institutions and experts – including arts and humanities professionals, computer scientists, librarians and information technologists.

Funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project is holding a series of five workshops, the third of which took place in Tucson this week. Representatives from 47 universities and organizations, including the UA, registered for the three-day workshop at the Doubletree Hotel Tucson at Reid Park, which concludes today.

Last night, attendees were invited to the UA campus to visit to the Arizona State Museum, the Center for Creative Photography and the Computer Center – home of AZ-LIVE virtual reality room – to get a glimpse at technologies already in place in the fields of arts and humanities at the UA.

Some of those technologies include the Arizona State Museum's "Virtual Vault," an interactive, three-dimensional database of the pieces from the museum's actual storage vault and the Poetry Center's audio/visual archive of readings performed at the UA during the past four decades.

McGreevy compared Project Bamboo to the UA-led iPlant Collaborative, which seeks to create computer cyberinfrastructure to unite researchers in the plant sciences field worldwide.

Project Bamboo addresses the specific needs of the fields of arts and humanities, where higher technology might not be as familiar ground.

For more information, visit the Project Bamboo Web site.

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