Meshing digital arts and medieval maps – News

Fueled by a dual passion for production value and the Middle Ages, Ryan Mayhan ’22 has created a project that successfully blends his academic interests. This is a video, aimed at a general audience, about how cartographers created ideological maps of the medieval mind.

Mayhan is an interdisciplinary major with a focus on digital arts and media production, and he has a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.

To give visual appeal to the video, he learned to use Adobe After Effects’ 3D camera feature to create dynamic shots of what would otherwise have been a flat map. On the historical side, he analyzed in greater depth the sources he studied in his course work – the Hereford Mappa Mundi, the Map Psalter and the Nuremberg Chronicle. Mayhan explored the psychology of why medieval cartographers described things the way they did on their maps.

Mayhan agreed to answer a few questions about his work, which he did for a class called Race and Racism in the Middle Ages, taught by assistant professor of art history Laura Tillery.

Major: Interdisciplinary Concentration

Minor: Medieval and Renaissance Studies

High School: Hillsdale High School

Hometown: San Mateo, California.

Learn more about student research

What inspired you to develop this project?

I was inspired to do this documentary project because I thought it was a way to synthesize some of what I learned in Hamilton with practical experience I gained during my internship during summer, working with Robert Kinkel ’79 (a music engineer and founding member of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra) in his New York studio. I helped there with the video production and assisted in his recording studio. I’ve taken some of that practical industry knowledge, along with the skills I learned in my video lessons and medieval history classes here in Hamilton, and created something that hopefully -le, would be accessible to a wider audience.

What did you learn while working?

As a medieval history minor here, I learned that much medieval scholarship has historically been dominated by a singular narrative, that of largely white, straight, Christian European scholars. The class Race and Racism in the Middle Ages was a fantastic class to start unraveling that framework. I was inspired to do a project that examined how much of the history we’re studying is rooted in this unique narrative view of the world – while simultaneously avoiding or ignoring any outsiders that don’t fit the narrative. Part of the goal of my project is to broaden the audience for medieval history. I want it to be easily digestible by people outside of academia, who may not have access to the same kind of quality teaching resources that we have here at a higher education institution like Hamilton. In doing so, I aim to break away from the gatekeeping attitude that has dominated the field for so long.

Digital technologies and ways of thinking continue to change the world. Hamilton responds by instilling in his students the skills necessary to communicate and work effectively in this environment.

digital hamilton

What do you think of doing after Hamilton?

I want to continue working in media production, hope to enter the film industry as a cameraman and eventually become a cinematographer or director. I plan on becoming a freelancer in addition to working on film sets, which will hopefully combine into enough relationships to turn my love for media production into a full career in which I can pursue my own creative endeavors! I also love music and music production, so I think whatever kind of projects I’m working on, I’m sure it will work out one way or another.

John C. Dent