The Impact of Digitalization upon the Arts and Humanities

By Stephen Husarik.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Teachers in the arts and humanities should know about the risks and benefits of scientific tools even if they tend to ignore science itself. As a scientific tool, digitalization demonstrates the risks and benefits quite well because there are notable gains and losses that result when something is digitalized (i.e. represented by samples). On the one hand, the digital process opens up new avenues for creativity in art works such as films that are editable, endlessly repeatable and permanently available to a wide audience. But as a preservation technique, digitalization removes subtle characteristics from pre-existing art works that result in inaccurate reproductions (e.g., faulty recordings of player-piano keyboardists; loss of resolution in art history images, etc.). The inaccuracies seem small at first, but their implications for critical understanding and education are great. How can one accurately evaluate an art form that is lacking the full data needed to assess its impact? This paper explores how digitalization has produced gains and losses in the arts and humanities over the centuries with illustrations drawn from automatic musical instruments (e.g., carillons, player pianos and keyboard synthesizers), paintings and film-making machines (e.g., kinetoscopes and computer graphics). The examples cited in this paper suggest interesting implications about the strengths and weaknesses of information delivered in modern classrooms and how that distorted information can lead to critical misunderstandings about the history of the arts.

Keywords: Arts Criticism, Digitalization, Preservation, Online Education

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 7, pp.119-126. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1004.342KB).

Dr. Stephen Husarik

Professor of Humanities/Music History and Head Carillonneur, Humanities/Music, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA

Stephen Husarik is a full professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. He has edited several books (including American Keyboard Artists, Who's Who in the Humanities, etc.) and has read and published numerous articles in the areas of Music, Humanities and Online Education at national conferences. Dr. Husarik is the recipient of several N.E.H. college teacher grants and recipient of awards for his publications, classroom teaching and online courses. He is Head Carillonneur of the forty-three bell Reynolds Tower at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith (USA).


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