VRA 2017 Keynote Speaker: Brent Seales

This year’s convocation speaker, Dr. Brent Seales, paradoxically works with cutting-edge technology as well as some of the world’s earliest artifacts. Dr. Seales received his doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Currently, our guest speaker is a professor and chair of the Department of Computer Science and what’s more, the director of the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments (VIS Center) at the University of Kentucky. Another notable period in his career trajectory occurred in 2012-2013, when he was a visiting scientist with Google in Paris.

His work researching digital imaging in the fields of cultural heritage at the enviable VIS Center (basically a Visual Resources Center on steroids), is what makes Seales such an exciting and timely addition to this year’s program. The VIS website describes the Center as having produced fascinating research using advanced technologies that incorporate “computer vision and image processing, data acquisition, graphics, human-computer interaction, multimedia, and networking that are dedicated to research and development of computer-generated immersive environments, ambient environments, dynamic scene acquisition and preservation, advanced telepresence and telecommunications, and visualization applications in such areas as education and training, medicine, manufacturing, security, and daily life.”

Receiving international acclaim, the VIS Center has partnered with such renowned institutions such as the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, The British Museum, IBM, FBI, Archivision, and a number of universities.

One of his most compelling projects developed at the VIS Center is known as EDUCE (Enhanced Digital Unwrapping for Conservation and Exploration). It aims to produce readable images of ancient texts too fragile to open by using a virtual unwrapping tool similar to X-ray technology. Fortunately, (spoiler alert) for one particularly damaged ancient scroll from Ein Gedi, which resembles a lump of coal, Seales and his research team achieved the seemingly impossible by developing a software that involves layering digital images over the primary source, then altering the documents color and resolution. Thanks to Dr. Brent Seales for having securely laid the groundwork, we can only hope that such emerging technologies become common-place in the future within our field of visual resources.

Make sure to attend this engaging talk on Wednesday, March 29th from 5:00-6:30pm.

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