Some Uses of Hypermedia (A): Text as High-Resolution Image

Multimedia computing at last gives us the opportunity of presenting pictorial material as easily as written text, so that we can reinvest images with their true medieval importance.

High resolution scans
One vital result of this is that we can not only gather material about the plays from many different libraries and archives (this is already being done by, notably, the Toronto-based Records of Early English Drama project), but can present them in high-resolution colour facsimile. This not only makes often fragile and by definition unique documents much more widely available, but it gives the reader a sense of the original as a working document, something that we lose when reading it transcribed in a printed book.

This is fol.249r from the York Register (British Library Additional MS 35290), greatly reduced. The original scan is 21MB. Click on the image to see a larger version. It was scanned using the British Library's Kontron ProgRes camera which is also being used on the Electronic Beowulf Project.

These facsimiles are so detailed in their full 21MB state that they can be used for manuscript study, and for teaching palaeography.

Currently manuscript illuminations cannot be scanned in such detail for conservation reasons: scans will be from 4”x5” colour slides. Experiments are however being made with ‘cold light’, which will allow for more delicate items to be scanned.

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© The York Doomsday Project and Meg Twycross