Read, Watch and Listen

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Livingstone’s diary image stages

The spectral imaging of the 1871 Field Diary and associated documents produced raw image sets of 202 Livingstone folia in total. In other words, the spectral imaging of Livingstone’s diary resulted in the creation of 3,032 digital image files totalling, roughly, 750 GB of data. This data required processing by the team’s imaging scientists in order to make Livingstone’s handwritten text readable.

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Spectral image processing uses tailored mathematical algorithms in order to manipulate and enhance raw spectral image data

In the case of Livingstone’s manuscripts, such processing relies on the fact that different ink types on a given page (for instance, Livingstone’s ink, the ink of the newsprint, etc.) behave differently under different bands of wavelengths of light. Page shown, MS. 10703 f.21, held at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

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Spectral image processing uses tailored mathematical algorithms in order to manipulate and enhance raw spectral image data, in the process creating beautiful images in their own right

Page shown, MS. 10703 f.21, held at the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. Reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

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Identifying the spectral profile of the inks

The ink Livingstone used for much of his diary he made himself using a local berry, it faded so quickly it was barely legible when the diary was returned to the UK by H. M. Stanley in late 1871. Roger Easton (centre) collects the reflectance spectra of the inks used while team members Bill Christens-Barry, Kate Simpson and Karen Carruthers from the David Livingstone Centre assist. Image courtesy of R. B. Toth Associates.

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Pseudocolour

Once the PC images are produced, the scientists examine the images to identify those that show different inks and insert these images into the red, green, and blue channels (RGB) of a "pseudocolour" (false colour) image. If the handwritten ink appears as "light" in one of the PC images and "dark" in another, then the corresponding pixels may exhibit a colour tone in the pseudocolour image that allows easier differentiation between the handwritten and printed texts. Page shown DLC297b, held at the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, Scotland.

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XML transcription & Digital Publication. In February 2011 the imaging scientists systematically began to produce the processed spectral images

We transcribed and encoded the text of the 1871 Field Diary into XML. The site allows users to download and view all the XML files, raw and processed images produced by the project. Three Versions of the Text enables users to study the evolution of Livingstone’s text; the 1871 Field Diary, the 1872 Journal, and finally the 1874 published text.

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The 1871 field diary

Digitally manipulated image superimposing the processed spectral image on the reproduction natural light image, allowing David Livingstone’s 1871 field diary to be read for the first time in over 140 years. Image created by Adrian Wisnicki. Page shown DLC297b, held at the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, Scotland.

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Casey Reas

Casey Reas 1972 - 

Process 18 (Software 3)

2010

Still image of unique custom software 

Museum number: E.297:1-2011

Reas initiated the popular open source programming language, Processing, with Ben Fry in 2001. Reas is interested in the concept of emergence, where a simple set of rules leads to a complex system. The works in his ‘Process’ series all start with a written text describing the interactions between elements, forms and behaviours. The text is then translated into machine-readable code. The resulting software, such as Process 18 can be seen as an interpretation of the original written instructions.

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Casey Reas. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Creative Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)

 

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Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson 1943 -

e8505

2009

Digital inkjet print

Museum number: E.414-2010

In his earlier work, Wilson used a pen plotter to create highly complex monochrome images. He then switched to using inkjet printers, utilising his own pixel mapping software to create large prints such as this one.  The program selects the pixels and then maps them onto different geometric forms, such as circles or squares.  

© Victoria and Albert Museum, London/ Mark Wilson. Copyright: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 (Creative Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International)

 

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