Allen C. Benson, Writer, Photographer, Librarian


Research Statement

My research centers on photography, language, and AI. With photography and language, I am mostly concerned with descriptions: How humans use language to describe events and states of affairs represented in photographs; what we can know about photographs if descriptions are all we are given; and how descriptions and their contexts shape the information we receive when viewing photographs. With AI, my chief concern is knowledge representation and how we can symbolically represent and reason over descriptions in computers.

With at least minimal correspondence between the photographs we save in archives and their descriptions, expectations are my work will help improve researchers' ability to find, with higher degrees of accuracy, photographs sought within large collections.

My current projects are OntoPhoto and Architectural Documents. OntoPhoto is a knowledge-based implementation of an ontology of the photograph expressed in LISP. It depends on Scone knowledge-base system for its architecture, representation, and reasoning. I carry out this work with Scott E. Fahlman, Professor Emeritus, Language Technologies Institute and Department of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, and Jacob Migdail-Smith, doctoral student in Mathematics, Syracuse University.

The Architectural Document is a project in photography where I use images and language to capture and emphasize relations between events that lead to changes in built surfaces. The Architectural Document is a special kind of surface that presents details radically different from the original intentions of the architect and builder. Unlike the stylistic continuity of new surfaces, the condition and material substance of Architectural Documents no longer represent familiar forms and shapes. They present new visual experiences that are real creations made by human beings and natural processes responding to changing conditions. For an introduction to this phenomenon, see Wall at Number 818.

© 1997-2022 Allen C. Benson. All Rights Reserved