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Semantic Tools for Arts Research: A Case Study in ICTs and the Research Process in the Creative and Performing Arts. Angela Piccini University of Bristol. PARIP Explorer background.

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Angela Piccini University of Bristol

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Semantic Tools for Arts Research:A Case Study in ICTs and the Research Process in the Creative and Performing Arts

Angela Piccini

University of Bristol

PARIP Explorer background

  • Identify the range of mixed-mode research practices in UK and selected international higher education institutions and produce a database of these materials for use by the communities.

The stand-alone database projects:

The user problem in 2001:

  • Difficult to use

  • Blunt searching

  • Lack of connection

  • Centralised classification systems

2001 vision -The need to visualise relationships rather than reproduce activities as stand-alone initiatives

  • Detailed information about people, practices and places

  • Multiple windows for multimedia streaming

  • User-generated content to allow upload and annotation

  • Aesthetic drive

  • Users wanted a service to make others’ practices available to them

Institute for Learning and Research Technology

  • Sarah Agarwal, Ben Joyner, Libby Miller, Simon Price

Home pages typically said things such as:

  • My name is...

  • I work for...

  • I'm interested in...

  • I live near...

  • My blog is...

  • I write in this weblog...

  • You can see me in this picture...

  • FOAF

  • Semantic Web


  • Semantic web technologies could be used in many ways to transform the functionality of the web:

    • rich metadata for media and content to improve search and management;

    • rich descriptions of web services to improve discovery and composition;

    • common access wrappers for information systems to simplify integration of disparate systems;

    • common lingua franca for exchange of semantically rich information between active software agents;

<rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf=


xmlns:foaf= >

<rdf:Description rdf:about=>

<dc:creator rdf:parseType=Resource>

<foaf:name>Sean B. Palmer</foaf:name>


<dc:title>The Semantic Web: An Introduction</dc:title>





Web presence




Project info


RAE submissions


PhD supervision




Research themes

Research outcomes





2004 user-engagement

Technical Details

  • Implemented in SWI Prolog

  • Database exposed through web service running as multi-threaded SWI Prolog server and runs under Windows, Linux, Solaris and OS-X

  • As webservice accepting SeRQL queries and returning RDF, it exists as freestanding resource

  • Graphical client interface was Flash, as the open source alternative (SVG) does not support word-wrapped text.

PARIP Explorer

  • Rich data

  • Excessive, dense material

  • Problematizing taxonomy

  • Facilitating collaboration and networking

  • Making infrastructures visible and available

  • Polyphony, translation, fields of practice

locating grid technologies: performativity, place, space

The ‘Locating Grid Technologies’ workshops (June-October 2006) explored fragmentations of space-time in networked environments by: using the communications grid as a telematic performance environment and as a dissemination tool for other performance forms; using a range of software interfaces within communications grid events to record, annotate and retrieve ‘meetings’; using Semantic Web tools to query that audio-visual archive in such a way as to facilitate its creative re-use on the fly in performance, in programmed installation environments and in virtual working environments.

Workshop 2 - Connection: PARIP Explorer, Semantic Web and Data Grids for the creative and performing arts and media

  • Participants introduced to Semantic Web, file sharing and intellectual property issues. Emphasis not on the analysis of video data, but rather on how users might annotate archives for creative reuse.

  • RDF workshop: PARIP Explorer + Memetic

  • Issues: important but challenging to connect tools and technologies for diverse users.

AHRC e-Science

  • Lifecycle of digital media object: create, annotate, re-use

  • Leeds/Bedford/Manchester/OU

  • Thrive: Watershed Media Centre, Arnolfini, Spike Island, Picture This, Architecture Centre

  • JISC

Aim: to create a tool to facilitate querying of distributed online resources for use in real-time, on-the-fly, in practice-as-research, professional and community-generated arts practices — in both static and mobile contexts.

  • user-created folksonomies as well as pre-defined static ontologies;

  • location-aware GUI;

  • annotating media to enable time-based searching within av, according to user-generated concepts in addition to screen media conventions

  • annotated relationships among text, people, institutions, media to add meaning to those links

  • editable pro-forma questions to spark high-level queries

  • facetted browsing

  • Collaboration with dShed – Bristol Stories, Electric December

From PARIP Explorer technology:

  • Migrated from SWI Prolog to Java - better environment for development and sustainability.

  • SPARQL now the standards-based RDF query language. Moved to using this from SeRQL.

  • Removed Flash, and now using modern frameworks (Google Web Toolkit) to provide high levels of user interactivity using HTML and Javascript.

  • Providing REST-based web services (representational state transfer) to allow publishing interfaces that other third-party applications could use to utilise our data.

  • Planning for Google Maps type widget to allow visual co-location and user augmentation of resources

  • Next stages: automated metadata generation; interface to mobile devices

Next steps

  • Your involvement?

  • December workshop

  • Spring engagement exercises – online and face-to-face

  • Login