About this Exhibit

This exhibition highlights a selection of artists' books published in southern states from the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Library in conjunction with a Neo4j Social Network Analysis, visualized with Graph Gist. 

Dean's Fellow Haley Brown (Class of '17) began this project in Fall 2015, by analyzing a selection of artists' books, recording specific information from the books themselves, and contacting artists on an individual basis to discover important relationships within their artistic communities. 

These relationships, ranging from types of books published, schools attended and education received, mentorships and programs attended, artistic collaborations, and more, were encoded in the Neo4j graph database as a series of nodes (a computer science term meaning any connection on a network or graph). Once encoded, the nodes in the dataset could be viewed with Graph Gist as an interactive graph. We explored the data by constructing questions with Neo4j's Cypher query language, which returned fascinating answers (and prompted even more questions). The process of data collection, code writing, and correspondence with the numerous artists represented in the collection has created a unique product that allows for a complex and revealing reading of our artists' books and the wider artists' book community across the nation. 

Some findings from this project were presented at the College Book Art Association (CBAA) conference lecture in January 2016. Additionally, a companion exhibition was installed in Vanderbilt University's Special Collections Library to highlight books from this project based on specific queries that were posed to the dataset, including:

  • Which books are the oldest in the collection?
  • Which books are one-of-a-kind?
  • Which are local to Tennessee?
  • Are any artists' represented in the collection from outside the United States?
  • What themes are most predominant among these books?
  • And which "nodes" are the most connected?

Click here for the live gist!