The cultural heritage domain is characterized by large, rich and heterogeneous data sets, while institutions in charge of preserving the world’s memory strive to obtain controlled vocabularies based on their own collections. The result is multitudes of vocabularies in different languages that are difficult to standardize. This problem increases when dealing with textile records and specifically with silk ones, which comes from multiple sources that have been mixed up across time and space. Moreover, it changes according to specialties (weavers or historians), nationalities (Europe or North America), or disciplines (ethnographic specialists versus art historians), etc.For example, local variations of a term are rarely taken into account (e.g. espolín has different meanings in some regions of Spain). This has led to the use of different terminology in specialized organizations in order to describe their artifacts. This makes data interoperability very difficult between independent catalogues. Among that, the interaction level of existing resources is low, complex queries are not possible and results are poorly shown.
To meet these challenges, SILKNOW has built a multilingual thesaurus in four languages: Spanish, French, English and Italian, dedicated to the specific vocabulary of historic silk textiles, which also includes local term variants. It collects more than 800 terms that not only come from academic and historical sources but also from oral history, as knowledge coming from weavers is something that SILKNOW intends to preserve. Terms that can be found include silk weaving techniques, designs, looms, costumes, etc.
The thesaurus, freely accessible and free for users, offers a specific controlled silk vocabulary, which did not exist until now, since there were only some thesaurus on fabrics of all types and some others of private nature. It is geared to researchers, students and cultural heritage professionals. For example, a researcher may use the thesaurus to connect terms that she or he could have found in historical documentation, providing updated, standard naming for these terms. In addition, when planning exhibitions, a curator often needs to either write the exhibition catalogue or ask for a loan to another museum. In these cases, artworks coming from other countries can be identified in their vernacular languages. Having a thesaurus will help curators to standardize terminology. Art history and conservation students will be familiarized with a variety of textile terms.
The thesaurus will help heritage institutions to provide access to and preserve silk heritage in the digital environment. Participating and collaborating institutions will radically improve their cataloging practices and digital data retention. Therefore, the thesaurus will serve as an example of the benefits of shared cataloging frameworks and data interoperability.
The aim of this international conference is to spread current research about historic fabrics together with the latest technology applied to cultural heritage. The forum will merge professionals from different areas as museums, tourism, creative industries, innovative hubs, universities, etc. where heritage and technology are the junction points. A further goal is to generate a collaborative code of practices to promote defence and safeguarding of textile heritage. It should include methodologies on cataloguing and inventory that will increase the cooperation among institutions to share data and provide open access to it.
We invite researchers and professors from the academic area, undergraduate, postgraduate and Ph.D. students; private companies related to tourism, creative industries, arts, crafts and traditional industries; fashion professionals and business-related to the silk industry to submit your abstracts.
TOPIC 1: Information Technologies (ICT) and textile heritage communication
TOPIC 2: Silk Museums
TOPIC 3: Creative Industries & Social Innovation applied to Silk Heritage
TOPIC 4: Sustainable Tourism applied to Silk Heritage
TOPIC 5: Conservation and Restoration of Silk Heritage
Instructions – Call for papers
All participants are invited to submit their proposals before 30 October 2020, specifying the group/topic in which the paper or poster is addressed to. Proposals must include the following information:
Abstract (maximum 10 lines)
Keywords (between 5 and 7)
Name, surname and e-mail of the authors
Institutional affiliation of the authors (name, postal address and telephone)
The contribution must be original and must have not been previously presented to any other meeting or submitted for publication. The paper must be submitted by e-mail attachment to the conference secretariat:
The paper prepared according to the template should be prepared in English or Spanish language. The Scientific Committee will review all papers and will send the acceptance as oral presentation or poster. The volume will be published by Universitat de València.
Silk has been present throughout the history of fashion. The most luxurious models and the courts dressed in such precious material.
The concept of fashion emerged during the Renaissance as we understand it nowadays, introducing new genres and acquiring more and more professionalism. Pleats, vertical fabric droppings, embroidery decorations, rich trimmings and elaborated lace predominated. In the 16th century, short pants were like knickerbockers, and the doublet and ornaments such as the ruff were still used. The corset along with skirts of great volume appeared in women’s outfits.
In the 17th century, sober & austere forms predominated, because of religious influence. The cloth was the most used material, and silk was only affordable by the upper classes. The doublet evolved into a jacket, with the collar of lace starched flounces, and the breach lengthened and fell under high boots.
In France, Louis XIV’s court favoured haute couture, beginning to dictate fashion’s evolution at the European level. At that moment, the tie appeared, initially in a bow’s form, tied around the neck. The morning suite also appeared with a long-fitted jacket with a flared bottom.
The French Revolution supposed more uniformity in the way of dressing, with short jackets and long pants for men. For women bodices, round skirts and cloth shawls. The lead on fashion moved to England, where men wore morning suits with wide and turned-down necks, knee-length shorts, and top hat. Women abandoned the corset and crinoline and inspired their outfit in Ancient Greece, with long fitted dresses with a ribbon under the chest.
The richest velvets, damasks, brocades, embroideries … have dressed Europe’s history. These fabrics can be seen in portraits painted by famous artists such as Goya, Jean Cluet or Bronzino. Today, fashion continues using silk as it happens in collections of the most fashionable haute-couture houses such as Dior, Dolce and Gabanna, Francis Montesinos and many others that keep weaving the past into the future.
On the 5th and 6h of May, the SILKNOW team held an online meeting to discuss the project’s advancements. This meeting was originally going to take place in Nice, France at EURECOM Headquarters but, due to COVID-19, we had to hold it online. Confined but active, we used these two days to explain each Work Package advancements and the interdisciplinary work they require.
The connections between the Virtual Loom and the modelling of textual annotations were discussed, we also began to coordinate the integration of new classes and properties with the expertise of our colleagues from CNRS-Université Lumière-Lyon 2. This led to a discussion on the coverage of our Knowledge Graph as we want to consider also these objects that explain how silk heritage has evolved over time. Next, our Italian colleagues from UNIPA explained to us how they are going to evaluate all the SILKNOW tools. Finally, we saw for the first time how the Search Engine will be… but we do not want to let the cat out of the box!
These were two fruitful days, we showed that even in quarantine our team remains strong and still from our homes, we keep weaving our past into the future.
The successful candidate will be active in the planning and delivery of the research activity for this project so that the overall objectives are met. This will involve a variety of tasks: research, dissemination, preparation of reports and publications, planning and organization of events, day-to-day management, etc. Ordinary working languages will be English and Spanish. The candidate will commence work as soon as possible, after the selection process.
Deadline for registration of applications: 10 June 2020
Applicants must be graduates with a concentration on (preferably) Art History, or (alternatively) History, Humanities, Geography, Computer Science, or an equivalent degree in a Bachelor program.
No specific master’s degree is required, but advanced training (or demonstrable experience) in Digital Humanities and related disciplines will be highly appreciated.
Because of the administrative standing of this job offer, candidates with a completed PhD are ineligible. PhD students are welcome to apply, however.
Languages: candidates must be proficient in English (at least, a C1 or equivalent level) and have a working knowledge of Spanish. Additional European languages (especially, Italian and/or French) are a plus.
Applicants should provide proof of a background (or accredited experience) in all or some of the following areas: digital humanities, Linked Open Data, semantic web, data visualization, information management in museums and heritage collections, history of textiles, audience research, qualitative evaluation.
Applications must be presented at any registration desk in Universitat de València. Other legal registration procedures accepted by Spanish laws (including post offices) can be used, too. Outside Spain, submissions can also be made at Spanish consular offices or embassies.
Use as the first document the application form provided in the official call.
Attach a copy of your national identity document, and a photocopy of your university degree(s). In case of non-Spanish universities, please provide certification of its equivalence in the Spanish system.
Curriculum vitae. Any dossier of publications or similar supporting documents should be made available online, via a single link, when possible. At its discretion, the selection committee might require a candidate to provide additional proof of any item.
Motivation letter, approximately 500 words long.
If deemed necessary, an interview with the committee might be part of the selection process, be it online or face-to-face.
For informal enquiries about the position, please contact the project co-investigator Dr. Jorge Sebastián (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Given the special circumstances caused by the coronavirus crisis, do not hesitate to ask for help or guidance regarding any aspect of this job offer.
Silk is way much more than just a couple of threads. It is the legacy, crafts, innovation, diplomacy and memory of Europe in just one piece. It unites tangible and intangible heritage in a history that can be traced in the past 2000 years. European silk heritage is linked to history, sociology and cultural production. These exchanges involved not only goods but people: artisans moving from one place to another, traders travelling throughout the routes, consumers adopting some fashions instead of others. Languages changed, too: the names for techniques and patterns were copied or translated between them, reflecting changes in society, technology…
For SILKNOW, silk is much more than textiles: it is the thread that brings ideas, creativity or life stories and collective narratives together. That´s why we are committed to protecting it by weaving the past into our future
In our Virtual Loom, creativity can be sparked: it allows artists and designers to upload their creations and see how they would be if they are woven or they can print them in 3D. But also, it permits to create new designs by applying the symmetry functionality, changing the location of the four points and adjusting the aspect ratio.
European history is woven in silk. Few materials have had such economic, technical, functional, cultural and symbolic presence throughout our past and present. Common ideas about the Silk Road most often are limited to its ancient and Asian origins, ignoring the importance of its later European ramifications. There is, however, an increasing interest in the Western Silk Road, the network of production and market centres, spreading over various European countries.
Today, the textile industry has a huge global impact. According to EURATEX, EU clothing and textiles production is predominantly carried out by SMEs, directly employing 1.69 million people, 70% of whom are women, with more than half a million job openings anticipated in this sector until 2025. The Commission has recognized that Fashion Industries -textiles among them- are at the heart of the creative economy, generating huge economic wealth and preserving European identity, culture and values. Creative industries are faced with a digital transition that is shaking up traditional models, transforming value chains and calling for new business models.
SILKNOW, for textile creative industries, but also do-it-yourself fashion fans, offers the ability to reproduce historical textiles through 3D-printing. Thus it will offer a new technology that can be especially useful for customizing products such as small, prêt-à-porter items, not only costumes.
The Virtual Loom can be a very useful tool since it will allow you to visualize finished designs, without having to invest time and money. On the other hand, the VL allows users to change colours, yarns, weaves, techniques hence, traditional factories can experiment with new designs and materials such as 3D printing, opening to new markets.
The SILKNOW’s VL was not an easy task to perform, it took more than a year to make it available. It was only thanks to the interdisciplinary work that is characteristic of SILKNOW that it was feasible to create it. The definition and modelling of weaving were possible thanks to a tight collaboration among ICT and SSH partners of the SILKNOW consortium: from art historians to informatic engineers to craftsmen. Additional advice on the weaving techniques has been received by collaborating institutions, such as CDMT. Finally, UVEG has also performed an optical study on four silk pieces provided by GARIN, which were weaved with a Jacquard Loom following traditional designs.
Arabella León, a researcher from GARIN 1820 & Pablo Casanova, IT from UVEG explain to us their main challenges when dealing with the VL.
What were the main challenges as an art historian for its research and design?
As a textile conservator, the main challenge I found when developing the VL was to translate into “ICT words” textile terminology. To translate historical weaving techniques into software was challenging because it needed to be extremely accurate: to make an image looked like it was weaved was an easy task, however, to weave a textile with its original weaving techniques and weaves were complicated. Nevertheless, after much research and experiments, we achieved it.
For ICT, what were the main challenges for its design and implementation?
It was challenging to design a graphical user interface able to embed the techniques, weaves, type of yarns, etc while making the tool easy-to-use. For instance, integrated into the VL, we have an image analysis procedure, to automatically subtract the original design of the fabric or the technical drawing. This needs some actions from the user, but we have managed to keep it to the minimum requirements, so users only need to select the number of yarns. Then, the tool automatically discerns among different areas, for the user to select the colours and types of yarns. In that way, the image analysis procedure is hidden for the user, which only needs to focus on the visual appearance of the fabric virtual model.
What is the added value of the VL for silk conservation?
Accurate knowledge of the techniques is essential for conservation, with the VL this will be easily accessed. It is very useful to be able to see how a piece of fabric is woven without having to manipulate it since on many occasions this is impossible as their state of conservation is extremely fragile. On the other hand, museums do not have a standardized procedure to catalogue their assets. This is a problem because the heterogeneity of the records does not always provide enough information to be able to analyze a textile without accessing it. The VL will facilitate this research.
These past months we have been working on one of the main results of SILKNOW, the Virtual Loom. This groundbreaking Loom acts as a digital memory of silk heritage as it preserves historical weaving techniques which most of them are only known by artisans who have kept alive this ancestral know-how. It conserves and documents several weaving techniques thanks to its 3D visualization, which allows understanding the interlacement between wefts and warps by applying the necessary restrictions for each technique. Therefore, the VL shows those techniques as they are in real life.
The SILKNOW’s Virtual Loom also enables traditional industries to reduce costs by letting them select colours and techniques with just a click, and it encourages designers to create fabrics from historical silk models. Besides, this tool allows the creation of new designs applied to sustainable and recycled materials in 3D printing.
What is a VL? We define a Virtual Loom (VL) as an application that can virtually loom fabrics, given an input image with their design. In the scope of the SILKNOW’s project, we are dealing with images of historical fabrics. This means we need to subtract the design form the images before the VL weaves it. The SILKNOW’s VL includes a module on image analysis, to automatically subtract the original design. Once the design is subtracted, and combining this information with a historical technique (e.g. damask, espolín, etc.), the VL can produce an interactive 3D representation of the fabric at the yarn level, that can also be exported for its 3D printing.
As part of the VL, we have integrated a variety of yarns that are needed to produce 3D models with different weaving techniques. We have focused our design in representing silk, cotton and metallic yarns, which were the most commonly used in the historical textiles that we are considering for SILKNOW (15th to 19th centuries). We also added a total of 39 weaves (tabby, twill, sating and their variations). As per the weaving techniques considered for the VL, these are damask and damassé, damassé with metallic weft, lampas, espolín (brocade) and espolín with damassé ground. For all techniques, users can also experiment by changing the colour of the yarns, increasing/decreasing the number of yarns, increasing/decreasing the number of zones (of the design), mirroring an image (with a “symmetry” function) to complete design, etc. The generated 3D models can be downloaded, as well as the design after the posterization of the image. Additionally, the VL allows users to upload any image. Therefore, they can upload their design to virtually weave it and produce a 3D model.
The definition and modelling of such techniques have been possible thanks to a tight collaboration among ICT and SSH partners of the SILKNOW consortium. Additional advice on the weaving techniques has been received by collaborating institutions, such as CDMT. UVEG has also performed an optical study on four silk pieces provided by GARIN, which were weaved with a Jacquard Loom following traditional designs.
Were any VL before? Many applications produce 3D representations of textiles, to visualize them before they can be woven in a (non-virtual, but real) loom. In these applications, the input data is a computer-generated image with the design and the result is a fabric (design-to-3D-to-fabric). However, the SILKNOW’s Virtual Loom is quite different, as we depart from a piece of real fabric and the final product is its 3D representation (fabric-to-design-to-3D). In this sense, the SILKNOW’s Virtual Loom is unique.
How does it work?
An image is loaded in the Virtual Loom. It might have some perspective distortion.
The user interactively selects four points, corresponding to the corners of the area of interest. At this point, the image is rectified, so perspective distortion is corrected.
The user can change the aspect ratio of the image.
The image is processed to obtain different areas. To that end, we use the kmeans method from OpenCV: In the first place, the user selects the number of colours. Then, the Virtual Loom produces as a result is a posterized image. In the example, the resulting posterized image would contain four plain colours.
Black and white images are generated, discerning between the background and the pictorial part. Depending on the weaving method (this is selected by the user or provided with the image), different images are derived
Check out the whole explanation on our Video Tutorial