Since 1992, the EVA conference series has established itself as a natural home from which to explore the richly interdisciplinary and constantly evolving world of digital visualisation. Nothing illustrates this more than the great scope, depth and diversity of the papers contained within this year's Proceedings.
The latest research in digital arts and new media are explored, with contributors ranging from established scholars to the new generation of research students who will lead the field tomorrow. Geographically, the subjects range from China to Italy, and speakers hail from Taiwan to the US. Just as London is a global city, so EVA London is a global conference. Also significant, and an encouraging indication of EVAs yet to come, is the clear interest that has emerged this year from outside the ‘normal’ hinterland of the digital arts.
Papers from the archaeological and historical domains, from emergent research in virtual worlds, and from the disciplines of music, film studies and beyond, indicate digital visualisation's key role as a nexus between many subjects, and EVA's success in articulating that nexus is underlined by this collection. Intimately related to this is the engagement with EVA from outside the academic sector. Although the 'EVA community' has long existed both within and without academe, in museums, in private studios, and in galleries; papers in this volume show that we are also reaching schools, local authorities government, and the wider public. Digital visualisation, then, can be seen as critical enabler of the all-important knowledge-transfer agenda, on which the eyes of governments in the UK and Europe are so firmly fixed.
The Research Workshop continues to be a very valuable part of EVA. This is a session aimed primarily at students, from first degree to doctorate, and other researchers, can present their evolving ideas and projects in an informal session. Universities and courses are contacted and encouraged too suggest presentations to students. A very wide variety of topics is covered in the Research Workshop and they are found to be very useful to students wanting to gain experience in presenting their work, and as an information exchange venue where early research can be discussed.
The keynotes sounded by this year's plenary speakers reflect excellently this broader interest. Patrick Towell's paper banished any notion that visualization is a subject of purely academic interest, and highlighted its central role in decision-making, diplomacy and the formation of international policy. Angelina Russo reflected on the role of the user/audience in digital museum communication, and how so-called Web 2.0 technologies can enable a deeper and wider engagement. And finally Chris Batt, formerly Chief Executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, spoke powerfully of his experiences in delivering digital research strategies for communities such as EVA's.
Finally, these online Proceedings of EVA London 2008 mark a significant departure for the EVA conference as a whole. They have been made possible thanks to the generosity and collaborative spirit of the British Computer Society, which funded their publication, allowed this online version, and hosted the conference in its London premises. This connection was brought about by the Computer Arts Society, a BCS special interest group which celebrated its 40th birthday at the 2008 conference. There was and remains a unanimous view amongst EVA's organisers and participants that this arrangement exceeded all expectations, and a general wish that it continue for years to come.