I knew that I enjoyed literature, languages and culture, and, from my own view, to understand cultural representation it is best done through literature. Out of this came my interests. First I was attracted to English, reading novels was a favourite past time. Then came my interest for French that stemmed from a enjoyment in pronouncing those strange combinations of vowels and consonants, so different than the wide mouth English words, in my first year French course. And finally, but definitely not least, came my interest in Spanish literature and culture, a piece of education that I always felt I was missing. My love for complicating the easy resulted in a plan of academic pursuit which allowed me to complete three programs in two degrees in a matter of five years – including summers. Great idea? Maybe a little intense, but definitely worth it in the end. Did I struggle? Absolutely. No one can really express the mental exhaustion of trying to comprehend Derrida in French and somehow flow into studies of 19th century Spanish literature. But, regardless of mixing a little bit of each language whenever I spoke, it opened up a diverse realm of knowledge that, if I had not continued with my view of the world, I would be completely closed off from.
This leads me to my discovery of the CulturePlex Lab. I had been a work study student for Prof. Angela Borchert, a professor in one of my second year courses (Research Methods – lessons I still cherish to this day). After my year of working with her, she was to go on sabbatical and she suggested Juan-Luis. I emailed him and eventually got, what I thought, was an interview with the then supervisor of work study students. I went to the “interview” and it turned out to be less of an “interview” and more my first day. Thankfully, I had some free time and was able to complete my training, but still quite a whirl wind experience, which, in truth, sums up my experience at the lab – whirl-wind, exciting, fast-paced, and thought provoking (when I can understand it).
When I began working the some of the projects that are now present were just beginning, and some had not existed – well, in the sense that I never knew of them and perhaps the ideas were floating around while I was there. However, I remember working with the baroque art database under a different database system, when Yutzu’s pages was extremely bare, when Cvltvre still existed, and when we worked in the “catacombs” as Juan-Luis calls it. My first project was Cvltvre, which, at the time meant that I would search and upload information on different events around the world. These were events that I would find interesting like a Vivaldi concert in Venice or a Japanese traditional art exhibition in a German museum. The baroque art database was another story. At the time we were working on localizing geospatial points on maps. I would have lists of various locations all over the world that I would have to locate. It was not until I continued to work on the project that I began to get a real sense of what it was and how much information had been allocated into one single database. I’m excited to see the projects from the inside and work more closely with the projects that I see evolving