Today is the public launch of Art Maps, a project that allows you to help us locate Tate artworks on a global map.
What does this mean? Well, around a third of Tate’s collection of 70,000 artworks have some kind of place-related data in their indexing information, for instance in the work’s title. Art Maps is a web-based application that meshes this collection data with the Googlemap API, creating a navigable map of artworks. The ‘located’ works appear as pins and while some of the works are pinpointed to a named building or street, others are simply pinned in the centre of the city or placed somewhere on the country, named in the work’s title or other metadata. Some don’t currently have any place-related data but could be associated with a particular location – for instance where a performance work first took place.
Many of Tate’s collection works, and especially the thousands of works by Turner, are depictions of particular views. But in other cases, like the Howard Hodgkin work above, the relationship between art and place is more complex and ambiguous. Here we are in Croydon is an abstract print by Hodgkin, recognisable as his pictorial style. It was made after a trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, it doesn’t depict a view, and it gets its name from a sarcastic comment made by an English friend, remarking on a domestic interior in that city. So where, if anywhere, does that place it?
Since 2012 we’ve been working with our Horizon partners at the University of Nottingham and the University of Exeter to explore the possibilities for crowdsourcing through this web-based application. We’ve also been testing its use, on mobile devices, with a range of different participants including a tech-savvy group of adults; families from the Westminster and Lambeth; Tate Britain gallery visitors, online volunteers, a group of over 60s from Whitechapel in East London and a group of recent migrants to London. You can read about some of these past encounters, as well as the technical challenges the project has presented, in our project blog.
We also recently asked three artists: Simon Pope, Nye Parry and Susan Stockwell, to play with the site and their responses will be the subject of forthcoming blogs.
So, to celebrate the launch of Art Maps we’d like you to search for a place that you’re familiar with and then see if there are any Tate artworks popping up nearby. If so, perhaps you can help us locate them more accurately? Or perhaps you have a memory of the place they are associated that you could share with us? Maybe you know of a work in the collection that does relate to somewhere you know but that isn’t yet located on Art Maps. In any case, let us know by logging on and Art Mapping - and don’t forget to tweet using #ArtMaps
Art Maps is a collaborative research project (2012–14) involving a multidisciplinary team from Tate, Horizon Digital Economy Research (University of Nottingham) and the Centre for Intermedia at the University of Exeter, supported by RCUK.