The so-called digital turn involves a dramatic paradigm shift which entails profound transformations in those processes related with the access, production, distribution and communication of knowledge. Hence, a new epistemological order is currently emerging. That is the reason for which it is said that the digital turn does not represent new ways of doing the same things with the assistance of the technology, but rather new ways of thinking and understanding, and also new ways of creating, recreating, communicating, representing and interpreting.
This new scenario involves important disciplinary changes that particularly affect the field of artistic and visual culture. Given the incessant digitization effort made in last decades by museums, libraries and archives, and the recent proliferation of open data and linked open data initiatives, at present large sets of images, materials and data of all nature are at our disposal to be used for many different purposes. As a result, we face a new context that creates unprecedented opportunities to refund the empirical and interpretive bases of the Art History and visual studies. In turn, this also implies significant challenges.
One of the main questions that we should ask ourselves is: how might we use this enormous amount of digital material to produce new knowledge in the fields of artistic and visual culture? In which sense the possibility to process thousands of data involves a paradigm shift respect to our traditional interpretative models and research practices?
This new scenario also entails –as said above- new ways of communicating and representing. Digital media -transitive, interactive and hypermedia by nature- demand a redefinition of the models of discourses and the representation forms that we have used so far, determined by the print culture formats and by the book as specific artifact. Currently, however, videos, interactive visualizations, dynamic cartographies, transformative images… are all of them part of the new digital environment where the cultural discourses unfold.
The need to redefine the writing practices and the models of discourses that have governed the field of Art History and visual culture to date requires a proper understanding of the languages and logics of digital media, and an extra percentage of creativity. Here is precisely where the convergence of a variety of fields will be very fruitful. Naturally, this involves that art historians and experts on visual culture need to acquire new skills, but, in turn, never before has writing art history and visual culture been transformed into such a creative adventure as now.
The main purpose of DAHSS is face all these challenges, as well as to configure a framework for critical reflection and transdisciplinary learning in order to contribute to the development of the training infrastructures that the epistemological and methodological transformations associated to the digital turn are claiming.