Digital scholarship blog

23 October 2013

Visualising Joyce....yes I will Yes!

Dotted all around the British Library are lovely pieces of artwork which our colleague, Dr. Jennifer Howes, Curator of Visual Arts looks after.

One such piece is Joe Tilson’s “Page 1, ‘Penelope’” which is usually on permanent display in the British Library’s foyer but from this month through February 2014 it is being exhibited at the Barbican Art Gallery, as part of their ‘Pop Art Design’ show.   


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Created in 1969, it was donated to the British Library by Klaus Anschel in 1998, in loving memory of his wife, Gerty. Leo Stevenson removing dust from all those yesses before “Page 1, ‘Penelope’” is packed and sent to the Barbican.


If you’ve ever reached the end of James Joyce’s epic book, ‘Ulysses’, you’ll know that it closes with Molly Bloom repeatedly saying the word ‘Yes’ and it is these closing pages that inspired Joe Tilson’s art work. Through the repetition of this word, the concept of time, through the sound of words, is contrasted with a three dimensional object. Indeed, one can’t look at this object without affably muttering, ‘yes, yes, yes…’ 

It got us reflecting in the Digital Curator team about just how well the text of Ulysses lends itself to data visualisation, particularly for scholarly analysis.

A few of our recent favourites:

Visualizing Character Interactions in Ulysses for Bloomsday 2013

Expanding on previous work begun at THATCamp Prime 2012, Ulysses gets the social network visualisation treatment here.


Dislocating Ulysses

A Digital Humanities project to develop “a prototype for mapping readers’ geotemporal experiences of James Joyce’s Ulysses”.



Lots of Ulysses visualisation fun to be had on this community led project, including this spiral plot which shows our Molly's abundance of yesses at the end of the novel. 




 Do you know of interesting Ulysses visualizations? Tweet us on #bldigital. 

-By Nora McGregor, Digital Curator and Jennifer Howes, Curator of Visual Arts




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