Rare Emory Books To Be Part Of New York City Exhibition
Two of the Emory Libraries are contributing items to a New York City exhibition showcasing 16th century Biblical illustrations this summer, and the exhibition will come to the Carlos Museum in the fall.
“Scripture for the Eyes: Bible Illustration in Netherlandish Prints of the Sixteenth Century” is the first major exhibition to explore the form, function and meaning of printed biblical images produced in the 16th-century Low Countries.
The exhibition will run June 5, 2009 through Sept. 27, 2009, at the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in New York City, and Oct. 17, 2009 through Jan. 24, 2010 at the Carlos Museum on the Emory University campus.
Pitts Theology Library contributed five of the eight volumes comprising the Antwerp Polyglot Bible, published in the 16th century by Christopher Plantin, one of the greatest early printers, says Pat Graham, director of the Pitts Theology Library. He adds the library is delighted the Polyglot Bible is included in the exhibition.
“In addition to its scholarly value for biblical studies, this particular copy with its richly colored woodcuts is a stunning work of art and a suitable tribute to this pioneer [Plantin] of 16th-century book illustration,” says Graham.
The Antwerp Polyglot Bible is perhaps the most significant item loaned by Emory, says Walter Melion, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Art History at Emory and co-curator of the exhibit.
Polyglot means it was published in several different languages, such as Latin, Hebrew, Greek, Syriac and Aramaic, side by side in the same bible.
“We have one of the most beautiful copies,” says Melion. “It’s a grand folio book, so it’s very large. And several of the volumes have exquisite pictorial title pages. Ours is really extraordinary because they have several pages that are hand-colored.”
Two other books are from the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Books Library (MARBL): Humanae Salutis Monumenta (“Monuments of Human Salvation”), published in 1571, and Septem Psalmi Davidici, a bound series of prints depicting the seven penitential psalms, published prior to 1604. The Libraries are also contributing digital images of a few pages from the books for a catalog to accompany the items on display.
Melion says Humanae Salutis Monumenta, by Benito Arias Montano, is the first Catholic scriptural emblem book – a collection of images and descriptive text to foster meditation.
“Emblems were newly invented in the 16th century, and this is one of the very earliest emblem books. It’s a very rare thing indeed, and it’s in beautiful condition,” says Melion.
Septem Psalmi Davidici features prints created by Hieronymus Wierix, who along with his two brothers was considered among the greatest engravers of the time. Each scene is surrounded by an elaborate border composed of the entire text of the penitential psalms, says Melion.
“They are seven of the finest engravings produced in Antwerp in the 16th century in terms of technique and skillful execution,” he says. “They’re also very inventive in the way they explain the penitential psalms and relate them to the Passion of Christ.”
Emory University Libraries conservation technician Julie Newton worked on the five volumes of the Antwerp Polyglot Bible, which presented special challenges.
“They were extremely large and heavy, and their covers were detached,” she says.
The leather bindings were “in terrible condition,” but the interior text pages were “in excellent condition,” she says, though the pages showed signs of heavy usage.
“There was a lot of evidence of use, fingerprints that we worked on that are permanent,” says Newton. “We removed most of the surface soil, but the fingerprints are there forever.”
Kirsten Wehner, also a conservation technician, worked on the two books loaned by MARBL, which she says were in good condition compared with the Polyglot Bible volumes.
“Both of them were starting to split where the covers were attached to the spine,” says Wehner. In addition, the books could be opened at about only a 90-degree angle. “That was a challenge – you need to open the book to work on it,” she says.
The books from MARBL took about three or four hours of preservation work, but the five volumes of the Polyglot Bible required at least 40 hours of work spread out over a few weeks’ time, says Newton.
Other institutions contributing items to the exhibition include The Johns Hopkins University, the Royal Library in Belgium, the British Museum in London, and the American Bible Society. The exhibition’s co-curator is James Clifton, director of Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation and curator of Renaissance and Baroque paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
MOBIA is located at 1865 Broadway at 61st St., New York, NY 10023. For more information, call (212) 408-1500 or visit www.mobia.org/exhibitions/detail.php?exhibition_id=52.
For more information on the exhibition at the Carlos Museum, visit www.carlos.emory.edu/scripture.
—Maureen McGavin, KeyWords writer/editor
Digitization Project Bears Fruit: 1,200 e-Books and Counting
More than 1,200 volumes of out-of-copyright e-books produced through the Emory Libraries’ digitization program are now available to Emory faculty, students and staff for free download via the Libraries’ online search tool discoverE (http://discovere.emory.edu).
And in the future? Some of these e-books will be available globally via amazon.com (www.amazon.com), perhaps by the end of summer.
The digitized titles comprise more than 500,000 scanned pages saved as PDF files and include:
• a large number of materials from the Pitts Theology Library’s Methodist collection.
• a significant number of Yellowbacks -- 19th century popular British fiction housed in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library.
- Once the approximately 1,100 titles in the Yellowbacks collection are completely digitized, a collection of Regimental Histories from World War I and the Civil War is next in the queue.
The digitization program at Emory uses a scanner manufactured by Kirtas Technologies to produce electronic versions of out-of-copyright materials in the Emory collections. Items selected for digitization are uncommon in other libraries, allowing Emory to share its resources with scholars and readers around the world.
—Lea McLees, director of communications
New Digital Imaging Technologies Enrich Mapping, Large Format Presentation
I have been exploring three key digital imaging technologies that will enrich the content of digital maps and help tackle the challenge of presenting large format images within the confines of the computer screen. Therefore, I would like to share with you my interests in panorama photography, gigapixel images, 3-D point cloud image collections and deep zoom images.
Panoramas and GigaPixels
I began making panoramic images about 10 years ago by taking overlapping photographs and stitching them together using special software. The first gigapixel panorama I encountered was Scott Howard’s image of Machu Picchu. Scott manually took 404 photographs at a resolution of 1,500 megapixels, which took him about 65 minutes and ended up being about a 13.5 GB image. With the panorama stitching software, Autopano Pro, and special viewing software, Zoomify, he published the image on his website at http://www.docbert.org/MP/.
Inspired by Scott’s image, I sought out ways to give my panoramic images depth. That’s when I stumbled upon a collaborative project among Carnegie Mellon, Google and NASA, with the purpose of creating an inexpensive and automated way to capture gigapixels. The GigaPan Project includes the development of hardware and software to create these images but also offers hosting due to the technological requirements the images depend on. The GigaPan mount is a robotic tripod head on which you mount a digital camera; for a long time only prototypes were available. I joined their Beta program, but it took me more than a year to get my hands on one of their prototype mounts. Now they are available for purchase from GigaPan Systems; I recently bought an upgraded system and plan to use both mounts for captures.
The mount itself is quite easy to set up; most of the challenges are dealing with camera settings and changes/events in the subject matter you are shooting. Once the robot is configured and launched, the capture often takes more than 20 minutes to complete as hundreds of zoomed-in images are shot in a series of overlapping rows and columns. After about two captures, the AA batteries in both the camera and the robot will need to be changed, so to keep going, I carry around lots of rechargeables. Once you capture the image, you have to process it on a computer using the GigaPan Stitcher, and the process time can take up to 12 hours. You then can upload it to the GigaPan site for hosting.
The largest image I am working on was taken at Mt. Zion National Park in Utah. The processing failed twice due to lack of processing power. The most popular image I have taken thus far according to the Gigapan site is that of the Virgin River Recreation Area in northwest Arizona, and is most interesting about this image is the layers of terrain that you can zoom into and explore. My most recent gigapixel image was of Moapa Valley, Nev., looking north. And finally, the most popular gigapixel image on GigaPan.org is David Bergman’s now famous capture of President Obama’s inaugural address.
Many of these gigapixel images are available through a database within the free virtual globe application Google Earth. While I find this technology quite fascinating, I am also interested in how the content could be used in the classroom as an opportunity to allow students to see and explore places they may never be able to visit. I am also interested in how these images can be used in research, not only for dissemination of information but to enable the researcher to revisit the site without physically being there. I intend to use some of the images as elements within interactive digital maps.
Another interesting technology is Microsoft’s Photosynth. With Photosynth, you load several images of a site onto its servers, and the application analyzes and organizes them into a three-dimensional model using something called a point cloud. Basically, the application looks for patterns in the images as a way to arrange them spatially. My first Photosynth was of the formerly submerged town of St. Thomas, Nev. St. Thomas was a town in the Moapa Valley which was abandoned and then submerged by Lake Mead in the 1930s after the construction of Hoover Dam. Due to recent droughts, the town is now on dry land. I have captured a lot of photographic evidence and GPS points with the intent to make maps of the site.
The last technology I want to mention has enormous potential for digital libraries. DeepZoom makes use of a technology called Seadragon to display large format images using Microsoft’s Silverlight. The technology allows panning and zooming of a single high-res image or a collection of images at a rapid and smooth pace. Basically it removes long wait times and screen constraints from the equation. I experimented by using the Library of Congress’s birds-eye map of Atlanta to create a DeepZoom image. While this technology is ideal for viewing maps, it could also be used to display the contents of an entire book in a single image. Deep Zoom is certain to revolutionize the way in which we view content within our browsers.
—Michael Page, geospatial data librarian