Accepted Paper:

Shaping the digital future of cultural heritage: Digitizing video archives of jazz  


Dominique Vinck (Lausanne University)
Alexandre Camus (University of Lausanne)

Paper long abstract:

The digitization of cultural heritage is taking a growing importance. Old corpora Archives even became sexy. This renewal is made possible through/by the arrival of new actors and digital tools which are becoming relevant actors on the cultural scene.

But how engineers and IT specialists are working these cultural materials? How do they prepare the future of cultural heritage? And firstly, how do they work on digital material?

We look at the heart of a digitization project concerning the archive from a well-known European jazz festival. We will examine how engineers from a team specialized in signal processing are shaping the digitized video concerts, spanning nearly 50 years and a dozen audio and video formats. We will focus on the indexing part, which consists to identify the musical pieces played (scoring start and end) and tagging events taking place in concert space. Our question is: how engineers define where begins and ends an instrumental piece performed live?

Data come from an ethnographic fieldwork based on participant observation in laboratory life. Taking part actively in the digitizing process, more specifically the indexing, we can realize what guide choices and arbitrations shaping the space of the digitized concert. Thus we see that the ingredients which fix the beginning and end of a musical piece mobilize a vast repertoire of knowledge that goes beyond the signal processing: musical aesthetic, varied musical knowledge. We also show that digital markers shaping the original concert continuum are embedded in the playlist format supporting innovations.

Panel G1
The development of digital tools in STS and digital humanities: Watching, muddling through and reflexivity