To Another Successful Year!

What better motivation to start a new Academic year, than having just ended a very successful one?  As we are getting ready to embarque on new adventures and take on new challenges   during 2012-2013, we will take this space to remember some of the exciting things we did last year.

It was a promising year from its very beginning with a conference presentation at Kyoto University in Japan, were Dr. Suárez and Dr. Caprrini also won the best paper award.

Following, was the publication of the paper titled “The Potosi Principle: Religious prosociality fosters self-organization of larger communities” by Juan Luis Suárez et. al. This was the first of a number of other papers that were published in renowned journals during the year. All publications can be found and downloaded on the CulturePlex website.

In February we attended the 13th Annual Conference on the Conservation of Contemporary Art at the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, where Yutzu, one of the CulturePlex projects, received much attention from all the attendees.   Following the conference, Dr. Juan Luis Suárez was invited to speak on Digital Humanities and Cultural Complexity at the MediaLab Prado in Madrid.  This talk has resonated with many across Europe and shortly after that Dr. Suarez received an invitation to appear as a guest speaker on the Para Todos las Dos show on Spain’s national television

We also went to Mexico where we participated in the First Encounter of Digital Humanists in Mexico. Dr. Glearning, one of our newest projects was welcomed by everyone there.

In July we travelled to Hamburg, Germany, where we presented the VL3 and A Digital Geography of the Hispanic Baroque at DH2012.

Even at home we have been very busy: aside from coming up with new and exciting projects such as Dr. Glearning, we have also actively participated in the launch of the Barroco Nova Catalogue and helped in the organization of the GL 2012 THATCamp.

There was definitely much happening at CulturePlex last year and we are looking forward to all the exciting things that are awaiting us in 2012-2012.

To everyone out there that reads our blogs: we hope you have a fabulous year as well!

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At the DH2012 Conference in Hamburg, Germany

The DH2012 conference is now over, we are back to lovely London and are extremely excited to have had the opportunity to participate in this year’s international conference on Digital Humanities, hosted by the University of Hamburg in Germany.

So many things to talk about … many interesting presentations, people from all over the world, a growing community of those interested in this exciting field of study.  Not to mention the beautiful and I mean truly beautiful city of Hamburg.  A big thank you to the organizing committee for making sure that the daily rain didn’t stop us from exploring the city: very handy those umbrellas you handed out as part of the registration package!

But, although we made sure we enjoyed the city as much as possible, we were – after all – there ‘on business’.  The CulturePlex Team had two presentations at the DH2012 Conference. On Wednesday, July 18th, Dr. Juan Luis Suarez presented his paper: “A Digital Geography of Hispanic Baroque Art”.   To read the full version of the abstract, you can click here.  Also, the Yutzu below includes the actual presentation as well as some other useful links related to the congress.

Then, on Friday July, 20th, Camelia Nunez and Antonio Jimenez Mavillard, presented another one of the lab’s projects, The VL3.  The full abstract can be read here and you can listen to the actual lecture by clicking on this link.  Furthermore, the Yutzu below provides a compilation of conference related information.  Check it out!

And so the week came to an end, and never did we miss the rain as much as we do right now.  Great times at DH2012 in beautiful and rainy Hamburg.

Bis nächstes Mal, Deutschland!



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Dr. Glearning at the DH Reunion in Mexico

Tomorrow, one of the CulturePlex newest projects, Dr. Glearning will be part of the 1st Digital Humanities Reunion that takes place in Mexico City.  The Dr. Glearning poster, prepared by our colleague Elika Ortega, will be available throughout the day at the conference tomorrow.  But if you are unable to make it all the way there (and if you speak Spanish), here is a sneak preview of the information Elika will be sharing with those interested in knowing more about our mobile platform.

by Elika Ortega, Javier de la Rosa and Juan Luis Suarez

Those attending the conference will also have the opportunity to experience with the Dr. Glearning activities on their smart phones right than and there and take advantage of the fact that Elika – our Glearning Guru – will be there to explain first hand the ins and outs of Dr. Glearning.

But you mustn’t worry: should you not be able to attend the DH reunion in Mexico, but are eager to check out some of the Dr. Glearning activities, you can always download the app to your phone by going here here.  Furthermore, should you have any questions, Elika ( herself will be more than happy to to get back to you.

Good luck tomorrow, Elika!


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Did you miss the 2012 Great Lakes That Camp @ Western?

… this post will fill you in.

As you most likely know, we ended the Winter term with two presentations at the 2012 Great Lakes That Camp that took place at Western University this year.  The conference was a great success and participants engaged in many interesting discussions.   (For more insight on the event, Monica Rettig, one of the conference attendees, shared her impressions via her blog).

The CulturePlex Lab shared two of their latest project with the conference participants.  In fact, it was the first time we presented Dr. Glearning, our new platform for mobile educational games.  Our colleagues, Javier de la Rosa and Elika Ortega introduced us to the platform and then assisted us in creating our own educational games in Dr. Glearning.    Believe it or not, we had learned how to use  it and were able to create our own activities in no time at all.  Most importantly however, we had a lot of fun doing it.  If you would like to check out Dr. Glearning, you can download your app by going here.

In the morning, Dr. Juan Luis Suarez and Dr. Anabel Quan-Haase, presented a new and improved Sylva: the graph database management system that we have been working on during the past year.  If you are a researcher (with no programming knowledge) that needs to create a database management system in order to collect, visualize and query large data sets, then Sylva is the tool for you.  Furthermore, you can do all this collaboratively or on your own.  The one hour and a half workshop held by Dr. Suarez and Dr. Quan-Haase gave us plenty of time to learn about the tool as well as create our first graph and determine  the relationships between the conference attendees, for example.

The Yutzus embeded in this blogs are the actual presentations that were used at the (un)conference.  Take some time to look at them and feel free to contact us with any further questions or comments regarding the lab projects.

You can always reach us at

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Getting ready for THATCamp 2012

Catalogue Launch Poster

After a delightful evening at Che Resto Bar, celebrating the launch of the Barroco Nova catalogue, we are now getting ready for the Great Lakes 2012 THATCamp, that will be taking place at Western University this coming up weekend April 20th-22nd.  As a matter of fact, we at CulturePlex are excited to be hosting a few of the interesting workshops that are scheduled for the (un)conference at our lab.

So what will the CulturePlex Lab be be bringing to this year’s THATCamp?  Two very exciting projects actually: Dr. Glearning and The Sylva Project.

Sylva is a tool developed within the CulturePlex Laboratory to help manage the complexity of networks in a straightforward manner and allow the researcher to share the results with other colleagues. There are three main things that Sylva can do with your data: model, collect and query.

Dr. Glearning is a platform that addresses the need for mobile apps at the higher education level and aims to develop a flexible mobile educational game platform. The flexibility of Dr. Glearning will give instructors the opportunity to choose the desired content to be presented at each stage of their course. Students move along and ‘advance’ through the material provided by the instructor by completing the requirements of each different level on Dr. Glearning.

And … I recently found out that our colleagues Javier de la Rosa and Roberto Ulloa will be presenting Gamex (a final project they did for one of their classes this term) and show us how this latest invention of their’s is capable of recognizing faces from Baroque paintings through face recognition algorithms.

Have I tempted you yet?  As you can see, we’ve been doing really interesting work at CulturePlex and we are now ready to share it with everyone at THATCamp.  See you all there!


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At the Medialab Prado in Madrid

After a successful presence at the 13th Conference on the Conservation of Contemporary Art at Museo Reina Sofia over the weekend,  Dr. Juan Luis Suarez, will be spending the day tomorrow at the Medialab Prado in Madrid.

Medialab Prado is an interdisciplinary organization made possible by the Department of Arts of the City Council of Madrid.  The lab promotes research, production and dissemination of the digital culture within and between disciplines in many different areas such as art, science, technology etc.   The lab organizes regular training workshops, theoretical seminars, talks, presentations and roundtables directed to individuals from any professional background.

Tomorrow, February 21st, Dr. Suarez will be leading a seminar titled Digital Humanities and Cultural Complexity: Research, Concepts, Practicesin which he will discuss some of the changes that have taken place in the field of the Humanities and what it is that makes it necessary for humanists to move into a more interdisciplinary and collaborative direction.  Some of the issues Dr. Suarez will be addressing during tomorrow’s talk include the following:

1. Where do values come from? New approaches to culture.

2. The Baroque Mind: cultural complexity in a globalized world.

3. “The Hispanic Baroque Project“: Systems Theory, technological tools, humanistic slotuions.

4. The Digital Humanities: porposals and models.

5. What will the 21st century humanist look like?

6. The CulturePlex Lab: a lab for the cultural complexity and Digital Humanities.

7. It all starts with research and creativity.

There are certainly many interesting points Dr. Suarez will be touching on during tomorrow’s seminar and we are happy to let you know that the Medialab Prado will be providing live streaming of the event through their website.



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YUTZU at the Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid

We are very excited to let you know that Yutzu, one of the CulturePlex-based projects will be present at this year’s 13th Annual Conference on the Conservation of Contemporary Art, taking place on February 16th and 17th at the Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid.  The conference is intended for museum conservators, art restorers, art historians, scientists and other professionals and students interested in the conservation of contemporary works of art.

As some of you may remember, Yutzu has been ‘Connecting the Art World‘ for the Museum since Summer of 2011, when Arianne Vanrell Vellosillo, a conservator and restorer for The Museo Reina Sofia, decided to make full use of the collaborative aspect of the CulturePlex-based platform in order to work with curators and restorers all over the world.

Dr. Juan Luis Suárez, Director of The CulturePlex Laboratory at Western U, Dr. Fernando Sancho Caparrini from the University of Seville as well as Arianne Varnell Vellosillo from Museo Reina Sofia will be introducing Yutzu to many other art lovers attending the conference and explaining the many different ways this creative tool can be used to serve the purposes of each individual.

The Yutzu presence at the conference is a great honour for us  and it would certainly not be possible without the constant hard work that gets put in by the Yutzu team here at the lab.  Thank you everyone and good luck with the presentation, Juan Luis, Fernando and Arianne!



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New Publication from CulturePlex

” The Potosi principle: Religious prosociality fosters serlf-organization of larger communities under extreme natural and economic conditions” is the title of the newest article publication by Juan Luis Suárez, Fernando Sancho-Caparrini and Shiddarta Vásquez.  

The above mentioned paper was published by Oxford Journals in Literary and Linguistic Computing.  Its abstract can be viewed below and you can click here for the full version.


We show how in colonial Potosí (present-day Bolivia) social and political stability was achieved through the self-organization of society through the repetition of religious rituals. Our analysis shows that the population of Potosí develops over the time a series of cycles of rituals and miracles as a response to social upheaval and natural disasters and that these cycles of religious performance become crucial mechanisms of cooperation among different ethnic and religious groups. Our methodology starts with a close reading and annotation of theHistoria de Potosí by Bartolomé Arzans. Then, we model the religious cycles of miracles and rituals and store all social and cultural information about the cycles in a multirelational graph database. Finally, we perform graph analysis through traversals queries in order to establish facts concerning social networks, historical evolution of behaviors, types of participation of miraculous characters according to dates, parts of the city, ethnic groups, etc. It is also important to note that the religious activity at the group level gave native communities a way to participate in the social life. It also guaranteed that the city performed its role as producer of silver in the global economic structure of the Spanish empire. This case proves the importance of religion as a mechanism of stability and self-organization in periods of social or political turbulence. The multidisciplinary methodology combining traditional humanistic techniques with graph analysis shows a great potential for other sociological, historical, and literary problems.

Congratulations to the three authors!

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With Great News from Japan

Yes, the CulturePlex Lab has made it all the way to Japan!!

From October 20 to October 22, Dr. Juan Luis Suarez and Dr. Fernando Sancho Caparrini will be participating in The Second International Conference on Culture and Computing that is taking place at the Kyoto University in Japan.

The paper presented reflects the results of a multi- disciplinary collaboration in Digital Humanities that focuses on the multi-scale analysis of the network of Baroque paintings in the territories of the Hispanic Monarchy from the 16th through the 18th centuries. The paper applies graph analysis and visualizations as well as natural language analysis over a database of over 11,000 artworks in order to address three types of questions related, respectively, to the formation and sustainability of large cultures, the semantic content of the network we analyze, and the role of art as an institution that contributes to sustain large-scale societies. The results also help to design a methodology that can be exported to other projects in Digital Humanities.

And if being in Japan was not exciting enough, we just got word that their paper was chosen as a finalist for best paper at the Conference.  This has certainly turned out to be a great trip for the CulturePlex team.  Congratulations, or as they say in the language of your hosting country: omedetou!

You can also keep up with their adventures in Japan by reading Dr. Suarez’ blog.

Best of luck with the presentation and yes, we hope you are the winning paper!!!



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Farewell Dr. Arriaga!

This summer, as some of you were travelling the world, our colleague and friend, Eduard Arriaga was busy completing his Phd. Dissertation, which he successfully defended on July 20th.

Eduard’s  dissertation titled “Multiple Temporalities at the Crossroads: Artistic Representations of ‘Afro’ in Latin America and the Hispanic World in Globalization”, explores the artistic representation of ‘afro’ in the Hispanic world (or the culture built upon the legacies of Africans and African-descendants in the New World and especially in the Caribbean) during the current stage of globalization. He argues that afro-artistic contemporary representations are overcoming traditional ones   -bound to race as a biological signifier- and instead, they have become complex works where several cultural, transnational and temporal values overlap with each other in their configuration. Through the study of writers, artists and musical groups such as Ricardo Aleixo (Brazil), Yvonne America Truque (Colombia-Canada), Donato Ndongo (Guinea-Spain), ChocQuibTown (Colombia), Voodoo Souljhas (Colombia), Liliana Angulo (Colombia) and Fabio Melecio Palacio (Colombia), among others, he was able to establish a complex initial model to understand contemporary processes of artistic representation. Likewise, under a trans-disciplinary framework (which combines theories of Social Sciences, Humanities and Complexity) he had the opportunity to discuss varied themes such as Afro-Latin American and Caribbean identity, literary and artistic representation, Latin America and globalization, cultural transmission, gender, and Latin American cultural industries among others.

And, as one episode of his life comes to an end, a brand new one commences at State University of New York at Albany where he will be working as Visiting Assistant Professor of Hispanic and Italian Studies in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. He will be teaching Composition and Conversation as well as Literature of the Hispanic Caribbean, and Introduction to Literary Mothods.   For more information about Eduard’s new position at Suny Albany, you can visit his profile.

About his new job, Eduard says: “I am quite excited because I will have the opportunity of implementing my expertice in Cultural complexity, complexity theory as well as Digital Humanities”.

About his life at UWO in London, Ontario, Canada, he confesses: “I will miss the unspeakable amounts of snow (sarcastically speaking – I think …) and most of all, the opportunity that Western gave me to research and explore innovative paths”.

And about him leaving,  we say: We will miss you and we are so proud of you! Don’t forget: we are always one email (text, bbm, whatsapp … whichever) away.  Afterall, technology is our thing here at CulturePlex.

Best of luck, Eduard!  They are lucky to have you at SUNY.

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