Dr. Joanne Allen and her colleague, Dr. Michael Gromotka of Freie Universität, Berlin, presented their joint paper “Crowdsourcing the past: The Society for the Study of the Church Interior collaborative online research database,” on November 3rd 2016 at the Ècole Française De Rome.
Dr. Allen is interested in the nature of the relationship between recurring church reform movements and architectural space and how the usage of church buildings change in response to new liturgical norms. In order to understand these broad questions, a large amount of data is needed.
This paper introduced the Society for the Study of the Church Interior and their collaborative database project which seeks to collect the still scattered data regarding the development of spatial dispositions and aesthetic treatments of walls and other surfaces in churches. This paper also discussed the issue of terminology within this database. For example, how many different types of rood screen are there and what should we call them? Should terms discovered in historical sources be used? How many subtly different types of ‘alteration’ were applied to church furnishings (e.g. ‘partially demolished’; ‘remake proposed’)? Lastly, this paper discussed underlying tensions between devising an accurate, workable list of terms and subjecting the information to modern, interpretative judgments.
Another exiting aspect of this paper was that Dr. Allen and Dr. Gromotka encouraged the involvement of potential participants in this ongoing database project.
Congratulations and well done to Dr. Allen, we look forward to further information on this exciting collaborative project!