Visitors to this (new) page may be interested to read the comments of Professor Victor Mair, of the University of Pennsylvania, on the digitisation programme at the heart of the International Dunhuang Project. He observes that, thanks to online images, scholars no longer have to travel, with the accompanying expenses entailed, to far-flung locations to study documents or works of art, so saving resources of time and money. The objects themselves also are no longer disturbed and put at risk of damage or contamination.
From the point of view of the undervalued and often overlooked fine art photographer, it was surprising and refreshing to read this later on.
…Something else I have realized in working with archeologically recovered objects is that high-quality photography very often reveals details not evident to the naked eye. This seems paradoxical, but somehow a skilled photographer manages to bring out colours, shades, marks, and other properties of an artifact that are not visible to the unaided eye…Now in the comfort of one’s study, one may view the image of a given manuscript in whatever orientation one pleases, enlarging it, and enhancing the image by a variety of means that would have been impossible if one were working directly on the physical manuscript itself. Sometimes (I would say frequently), a virtual manuscript or artifact is preferable to a real manuscript or artifact.
IDP News [Winter/Spring 2010-11]
With thanks to Professor Mair for permission to quote from his text.