The digital humanities

ArtLab, Pavilion A (DataSquare) Saturday, September 14th (10:00am-6:00pm) to Sunday, September 15th (10:00am-5:00pm) Tuesday, September 17th to Sunday, September 22nd (11:00am to 6:00pm)

A digital paradigm shift in humanities and social science research

The digital humanities is an expanding field that develops digital tools to strengthen traditional research methods in the humanities and social sciences. Researchers in the field also study the cultural artifacts and social interactions that mark our digital world, from reading comic strips on a tablet to meeting on Tinder. Examples of digital tools used include artificial intelligence (SenseCityVity), optical character recognition (Venice Time Machine), virtual reality (Love Songs from the Ruin), pattern recognition, and machine learning (Reconfiguring Comics in the Digital Age).


EPFL Digital Humanities Institute (DHI)

How and why learn to transform cultural, artistic, historical and social data using computer science?

What are the digital humanities, and how are they taught at EPFL? Take a look at the curriculum and read the words of students in the program.


Jessica Pidoux and Joanne Joho

How do the algorithms of online meeting platforms work?

Jessica Pidoux is a researcher in the Digital Humanities Institute. She studies meeting apps to understand how technical systems influence how users experience dating. The aim is to analyze how “matching” — the connecting of two individuals — works.

We invite you to explore the data collected by certain meeting applications, as well as algorithmic quantification practices. You can also immerse yourself in the history of the means of meeting in Europe, from apps and parties to matchmaking agencies and cards. Finally, a personal science fiction story about the future of meeting will be presented as part of a project by Joanne Joho, from HEAD – Geneva, entitled “Who killed love (?)”.


Professor Daniel Gatica-Perez

How do social networks change our perception of urban spaces?

This project invites young people to reflect and act on urban issues that have educational, social and economic implications. What are the issues that concern them when they think about their own city? What role can artificial intelligence play in improving their daily lives? Using their phones, young people can collect images and videos that are then analyzed by artificial intelligence. The system then deduces the properties of urban spaces and current lifestyles. The goal is to better understand how technologies can help urban communities resolve social issues.


Prof. Sabine Süsstrunk, Prof. Raphaël Barroni, Dr. Mathieu Salzmann

SNSF Sinergia project

Can a computer recognize drawn objects? How does digital technology change the way we tell stories?

Comics are an important part of our cultural heritage. Over the years, they have spread throughout a variety of media, including stories published in the press, albums, and the digital media of today. Unfortunately, the transfer of a comic book from one format to another is a long and costly process, requiring the artist to recompose his or her work for each medium. The purpose of this project is to facilitate the process of reconfiguring comics.

On the cultural side, the aim of this project is to measure the impact of digital technologies on European comics. On the visual computing side, the goal is to generate detailed segmentations of graphic elements (characters, objects) and 3D concepts. The comic book archives of the City of Lausanne will also be valorized through a digitization campaign.


How were precise measurements taken before the widespread use of electronics?

Instrument demonstrations: Saturday, September 14th from 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Creating a vacuum, understanding optical illusions, looking into a camera obscura, measuring sound, testing electromagnetism: these scientific experiments will be performed live, and the physical phenomena will be explained. In parallel, several historical instruments from the UNIL and EPFL Scientific Instruments Collection will be presented, linking the demonstrations with current research carried out in EPFL laboratories. This project is the result of a collaboration between the Laboratory of History of Science and Technology (LHST) of the EPFL College of Humanities, and the Museum of the History of Science in Geneva.


Mathieu Clavel, Master’s student

How can we preserve intangible world heritage in the digital age?

This project showcases ghazal, a traditional musical art form of Afghanistan, as embodied by one of its most famous performers of the 20th century, Ustad Mohammad Hussain Sarahang. Its realization is based on a reflection of music as intangible cultural heritage, and in particular on digital audio data as a vehicle for this heritage, to which we must therefore give the attention it deserves. Combining the creation of an unprecedented augmented music archive and the technical means to browse it, the project results in an immersive experience.


Why and how does music stir emotions?

Prof. Martin Rohrmeier, Dr. Steffen Herff, Daniel Harasim, Christoph Finkensiep, Gabriele Cecchetti

Digital and Cognitive Musicology Lab (DCML)

The DCML’s research is at the intersection of musicology, computer science and cognitive science, and focuses on mental representations of musical structure. Researchers study aspects of learning, music processing and musical experience, such as tension, expectation and emotions.

At this station, the DCML will to show how the human brain perceives and processes music. Visitors can participate in the experience by listening and interacting with small musical sequences, and testing their ability to discriminate, rate and react to different pitches and rhythms. They will have the opportunity to learn more about the cognitive foundations of our relationship to music and the research conducted by the DCML in general.


Prof. Frédéric Kaplan

Can computers help us to better understand and preserve our historical heritage?

The Venice Time Machine is an international project launched by EPFL and the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice in 2012. The idea is to create an open digital archive of the city’s cultural heritage covering more than 1000 years of evolution. The project aims to trace the circulation of news, currency, commercial goods, migration, artistic and architectural models to create a multi-dimensional collaborative model of Venice.