IPI’s grant-funded educational series off to record-breaking start

Sep 26, 2017

Thumbnail for IPI’s grant-funded educational series off to record-breaking start
By Alice Carver-Kubik of the Image Permanence Institute: Erin Fisher examines a photograph.
Thumbnail for IPI’s grant-funded educational series off to record-breaking start
By Alice Carver-Kubik of the Image Permanence Institute: Erin Fisher examines a photograph.

by Aaron Garland

The Image Permanence Institute (IPI) organized and ran a record-setting webinar on Sept. 13 as part of its initiative to introduce IPI-developed photographic process identification methodologies to a new generation of scholars, catalogers and curators.

The open-to-all internet session offered by IPI — a College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at RIT research center — attracted more than 600 participants. It’s the most IPI has ever had for a webinar, according to Jae Gutierrez, IPI executive director. Further, IPI said people from at least 30 countries partook in the “19th Century Materials and Technologies” webinar.

This comes after IPI, a recognized world leader in the development and deployment of sustainable practices for the preservation of images and cultural heritage, hosted two multi-day summer workshops in Rochester with similar teachings.

These outreach and educational efforts by IPI are for a two-year project that’s supported by a $182,730 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Preservation and Access Education and Training program. With IPI trying to reach a vast audience, it is set to hold six more workshops all over the U.S., five more hour-long webinars and produce a trio of video tutorials through 2018.

The recent IPI events kicked off the series of educational programming.

Alice Carver-Kubik, an IPI research scientist, is the grant’s principal investigator. She said that photographic process identification workshops and publications are in high demand, in part, because there are numerous types of photographs and many of them look similar to one another. By providing its instruction and research expertise, IPI is aiming to make the process of differentiating images a less arduous undertaking.

“When confronted with a large collection of photographs, it can be a very daunting task to distinguish one kind of photograph from another,” said Carver-Kubik, the primary instructor for the workshops and webinars. “However, it is important to do so because we care them somewhat differently depending on the process and materials from which they were made. 

“The content of the workshops, webinars and video tutorials is intended to take this daunting task and break it down into manageable pieces by providing a baseline knowledge and a methodology for identification.”

Photo by Alice Carver-Kubik

One of IPI’s chief project goals is to inspire educators to incorporate the institute’s structured process identification into their curriculums to enhance the knowledge of current and future co-educational care and management professionals. The programs teach attendees how to use Graphic Atlas, the high-level, online reference resource designed by IPI.

Judging by the data, IPI is off to a great start.

On top of the record-breaking webinar, Gutierrez said a second Rochester workshop was added after a high number of regional applicants for the first one indicated robust interest. All of these NEH-funded learning sessions are free.

“There are other workshops on this topic taught by other organizations,” Carver-Kubik said. “However, they tend to be expensive. We wanted to make sure this educational opportunity would be accessible to smaller institutions and institutions with limited budgets.”

The workshops, Carver-Kubik said, are limited to 20 participants so that the optimal hands-on experience can be delivered by instructors. But that’s where the webinars come in — they open up similar opportunities to a wider pool.

“The webinar format seemed perfect. Nothing can replace hands-on education, but this is a way in which we can at least get the information out to as many people as possible,” Carver-Kubik said. “It is available to anyone with internet access.”

Applications are still being accepted for the following remaining workshop locations: Tucson (Ariz.), San Diego, Austin (Texas), Chicago and Boston.

For more details about future workshops, visit here. A list of webinar dates and times can be found here. Omer Enes Demir, a student in RIT’s MFA film and animation program, is helping IPI with creating video tutorials.

“So far, it seems to be working,” Carver-Kubik said of IPI’s offerings. “Workshop participants begin with varied levels of knowledge and nearly all have ended with the ability to follow the methodology and use it to correctly identify the photographs.”

These samplings of comments from the initial webinar, via IPI, reveal the program was effective:

• Thank you!! I'm so glad that webinars like this are available, and especially that it is recorded and accessible to re-visit, as I'm in Perth, Western Australia, where it is now nearly 3 a.m.

• This is a lot of information to take in, especially if you're a novice. So I appreciated the frequent references to the fact that more in-depth information was available at Graphics Atlas for several concepts (as opposed to trying to cram it all into a single webinar presentation).

• This is the first time the chemistry has actually made some sense to me.

Rochester workshop testimonials from participants, courtesy of IPI:

• Ifound the lectures very interesting and informative. I liked how Alice pointed out when she was going over a key identifying feature for a process.

• I found that actually getting the experience of looking at prints under the small microscopes to be extremely helpful.