Transmission in Motion

Seminar Blogs

“Reconsidering Digital Moving Image Collections- SEMIA project” – Mavi Irmak Karademirler

The digitization of collections and archives adds a new dimension to the pre-existing materiality of sources; this implies that the research can be done on a much larger scale (Van Dijck 2016). For this reason, the development of tools for research is getting more and more critical. With digitization, the use of the archives has been changed, yet the use of the archives still rely on written information. The development of these tools can be enhanced with the use of different kinds of data and its visualizations, allowing for better browsing and viewing of digital collections.

For the last TİM seminar, Eef Masson introduced us to the Sensory Moving Image Archive project. The SEMIA project aims to visualize the patterns in moving image collections not based on textual descriptors but according to the different image features such as light, color, movement, shape. As archived moving images are becoming more digitally available, the development of a tool for making the collections browsable by their visual features offers a rich opportunity only for research and for exploring novel ways of visualizing the data and for the design of the interface of digital collections.

As stated previously by Mitchell Whitelaw, an interface that is designed more “generously” would reflect the richness and the scale of the digital collection (Whitelaw 2015). The commonly used search interfaces for the digital collections are “ungenerous” according to Whitelaw because they withhold information and demand query. On the other hand, browsing, as asserted by many humanities scholars before, allow for a more purposeful, instrumental, and awarding information retrieval. The SEMIA project approaches to the design of a browsing interface with such an objective.

SEMIA project shows that through a reconsideration of the access to the digital collections and the design of the tools, research can benefit tremendously since new ways of arranging and viewing of the digital moving image collections made possible. The project aims to rely on deep learning techniques rather than using task-specific algorithms, which means that rather than using pre-defined features from the moving image database, it will more dynamically make use of the possible different tasks with relying less on human intervention (SEMIA 2018). Ultimately the development of the tool will enable the users to explore the collections more freely and will allow to facilitate viewing and making use of the collections.


  • “Generous Interfaces for Digital Cultural Collections.” DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly: Generous Interfaces for Digital Cultural Collections,
  • “SEMIA’s Objectives: Short Elaboration.” The Sensory Moving Image Archive,
  • Van Dijck, José. 2016 “Big data, grand challenges: On digitization and humanities research.”