Artstor celebrates the life and work of James Conlon, Director of the Visual Media Center at Columbia University, who passed away suddenly on July 17, 2009 at the young age of 37. He was a wonderful friend, colleague, and champion for the use of new technologies to enable the documentation and study of cultural heritage sites and monuments.

In 2008, Conlon contributed his personal collection of digital photographs of art, architecture, and sites throughout Mali and Yemen to the Artstor Digital Library to enable students and scholars around the world to teach and study with his images. He was about to embark on an Artstor-sponsored campaign this summer to photograph the Dogon region in Mali, West Africa. Together with Susan Vogel, Professor of African Art and Architecture at Columbia University, and other experts, they were to create approximately 200 QuickTime Virtual Reality (QTVR) panoramas of important sites and architecture on the sandstone Cliffs of Bandiagara, which were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1989. In addition, the team was to capture the cultural landscape of the region through approximately 1,200 still digital photographs of the core towns and significant areas on the Bandiagara escarpment, ranging from ritual dances and other ceremonies to the practices connected with the design and use of individual works of art. Unfortunately, this campaign is now on hold until further arrangements may be made.

Conlon studied the social history of the Near East at the University of Rochester and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University. He also completed a post-graduate certificate in the Conservation of Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings from Columbia University. At Columbia, he explored the potential of new media to facilitate the interpretation and conservation of the built environment. He eventually became the Director of the Visual Media Center at Columbia and participated in several important projects to document major monuments around the globe. We at Artstor had the pleasure of working with a generous, knowledgeable, and kind expert. Artstor will preserve and share Conlon’s beautiful collection of photographs with you now and for many years to come.