Posts that profile current MA students’ research activities. Fed to the MA page in addition to News & Events.

From Point Cloud to Projection Mapping: MA Student Ruby Hung’s Summer Research

August 29, 2017

In 2016, Ed Triplett gathered a group of photogrammetry-curious students, staff, and faculty to crowdsource a model of the interior of Duke’s newly renovated chapel. The project served as a training exercise for professionals and researchers seeking to learn photogrammetry techniques for both technical and humanistic endeavors–and in this 8 million point cloud model of Duke Chapel.

Now MA in Digital Art History student Ruby Hung is building her thesis out of this model as she develops a proposal for an exhibition to be viewed in the chapel’s vaulted ceiling. The proposed exhibition would be presented through projection mapping, a type of light projection that matches visual media, both image and video, to the contours of three dimensional surfaces. The project’s goals include exploring the challenge of prototyping a projection mapping project using 3D printed models, creating a medium-specific historical narrative about the chapel, and developing an exhibition that engages in a scholarly dialogue with previously documented projection mapping exhibitions in sacred spaces.

A point cloud, a collection of spatially located points created using thousands of photographs, is converted to a mesh–a 3D model formed of many triangles.

Hung spent her summer developing a 3D printed prototype of the chapel’s transept vault using a combination of Autodesk’s modeling programs Meshmixer, Fusion360, and 3D Studio Max. She has worked in consultation with Professors Mark Olson and Ed Triplett, as well as with students and staff at the Colab, to create the scaled model with which she will develop her projection mapping prototype this fall.

The mesh is prepared for printing. Hung divided the transept into 4 sections for printing.

Through this projection mapping, Hung will tell the story of the design and construction of the chapel, bringing to light the work of Julian Abele through historical materials held in the University Archives.

Two models after successful printing in the Colab.




Lucas Giles: Reconstructing the Medieval Sta. Chiara in Naples

April 19, 2017
Lucas Giles

Lucas Giles completed the MA in Digital Art History in December 2016. His thesis examined the history of the destroyed medieval choir screen in the church of Sta. Chiara in Naples. He collaborated with students and faculty from the University of Padua to use ground penetrating radar (GPR), laser scanning, and historical BIM modeling to study the screen’s possible placement within the church. After completing his degree, he has continued to conduct research at Duke, leading a team of students who are developing a storytelling app for an architectural fragment in the Nasher Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in England, completing my undergraduate degree in 2015 in Art History and Italian at the University of Warwick. I mainly focus on medieval Italian art and architecture from the trecento, particularly from the city of Naples. This interest stems from the various exchange programs I spent in Italy allowing me to live in Naples for a year and Venice for six months. Outside of the academic sphere, I’m a keen soccer player and I love food and cooking.

Why did you choose to attend the MA in Digital Art History program?

I decided to apply for the program for two reasons: Firstly, considering my academic focus on the city of Naples, I was particularly keen to work with Professor Caroline Bruzelius whose work I had been following for a number of years. Aside from being the leading expert in my field, I was also aware that she had been exploring the use of digital technologies within the realms of art history. This was the second aspect which attracted me to the course. I felt that learning about some of these tools would not only benefit me in my own research but also stand me in good stead for life after graduation.

What is the most valuable skill or concept you have learned so far in the MA program?

I have learnt so much over a short period of time that pinpointing a specific skill is not so easy. Besides the obvious progression of my technological capabilities, I would highlight the improvement of my ability to work and share ideas with other people. Traditionally, art historians tend to live a fairly solitary existence so understanding the power of collaboration has been an important discovery. Secondly, I’ve learnt about the role that technology can play in opening up the discipline of art history to a wider audience. Embracing the digital helps to make the field more accessible whether that be in the context of the museum, in relation to academic research, or even in terms of pedagogy.

How do you see this MA advancing your career goals?

I’m still unsure about what the future holds, but I’m certain that this degree will serve me well in whatever path I choose to pursue. The core skills that I have acquired can be applied to a variety of different fields. I feel particularly prepared for a career in the museum world, as much of the training I have received has focused on trying to make cultural heritage more accessible to the public. From what I have observed, museums seem to be moving in a similar direction, so it would be great to be part of the ideological shift towards the democratization of museum spaces.

Henrietta Miers: Mapping Venetian Ceiling Paintings

December 16, 2015
Henrietta Miers

The Wired! Lab’s Master’s program in Historical & Cultural Visualization was begun in August 2014. Three students recently completed the program.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I am from Bronxville, New York, a one square mile town where I attended Bronxville High School. In 2010, I attended Princeton University and graduated in 2014 with a BA in Art History. I wrote my senior thesis on the art of the British Nigerian Artist Yinka Shonibare. At Duke, I wrote my MA thesis on sixteenth-century ceiling paintings in Venetian churches at a time of religious reform. I created an extensive database of 17 ceiling cycles consisting of two collections, about 350 items, 3 interactive maps, and 3 exhibitions. After graduation, I hope to work in a museum position and eventually get my Ph.D. in Art History.

Why did you choose to attend the MA in Historical and Cultural Visualization program?

First, I explored the projects the Wired! lab was working on, especially Visualizing Venice, and thought it would be great to work on the project and eventually write my thesis on a Venetian topic. Second, the idea of learning about how to digitize art history made me want to be part of the program because art history is constantly changing, and it is exceptionally useful to know how to utilize digital tools and programs such as SketchUp and Omeka (to name a few).

What is the most valuable skill or concept you have learned in the MA program?

The most valuable concept I learned is how powerful and important visualization is to the future of art history. Art history is constantly evolving, and digitization of this discipline is the direction it is heading, which is already evident in certain museums.

How do you see this MA advancing your career goals?

This MA degree will advance my career goals because the program gave me a skill set that I did not have prior to entering Duke. The MA allowed me to learn to code scenes with BabylonJS, design a website using HTML, build a windmill in SketchUp, and construct a database of about 350 items using Omeka. These are only a few of the things I was able to accomplish during this program, and I believe these skills will be useful for a museum position.

Henrietta is a member of the MA program’s inaugural graduating class. Her thesis is titled “Mapping All Above: Sixteenth-Century Ceiling Painting at a Time of Religious Reform.” During her time at Duke she worked on the Venice Interactive Visual Atlas (VIVA). She also worked on a class project, “Troyes Cathedral: Stained Glass” in which students recolored black and white images of a stained glass window as a way of showing how the medieval window, whose colors are now dimmed with the passage of time, may have first appeared. 

UPDATE: Henrietta is now employed at an art gallery in New York.

Jessica Pissini: 3D Modeling & AR in Museum Education

July 1, 2015
Jessica Pissini

The Wired! Lab’s Master’s program in Historical & Cultural Visualization was begun this past August. We are excited to have three students participating.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My background and undergraduate degrees from Pennsylvania State University are within visual art (sculpture/photography) and in ancient history/archaeology. I was lucky enough to be part of an excavation team in Egypt for 3 summers, 2 of which I was a graduate assistant in charge of the lab and site photography. I lived in Los Angeles for 4 years after school and had a great job in a film/tv fabrication studio where I worked on movies like the Avengers and Hunger Games, and tons more. I truly loved the creative side of that job but the entertainment industry is brutal. Plus I missed fieldwork and classes, so I started to look into graduate school.

Why did you choose to attend the MA in Historical and Cultural Visualization program?

I wanted a program that crossed both of my interests, and the HCVIS seemed to be the best fit. Plus I was not going to pass up the opportunity to go to Duke. The MA program gives me a chance to learn and study art and artifacts that I enjoy and also engages my creative side with the visualization projects.

What is the most valuable skill or concept you have learned so far in the MA program?

I came into the program wanting to 3D model everything I could get my hands on. While I have certainly learned a ton of great modeling skills, I think the most important concept I have learned is how to approach such projects and document everything along the way. There is so much more that goes into a historical/cultural visualization project than just the final model or image. I’ve quickly learned that such projects require much more effort in the research and planning stages than sometimes goes into the actual modeling itself. All of those elements are necessary though to have a successful project.

How do you see this MA advancing your career goals?

I would love to work with art and artifacts perhaps within a museum type of career. With all of the classes and all of the projects I have been a part of these last 2 semesters, I have worked directly with museum exhibitions and public outreach projects. That is hands on experience in a field I want to pursue. Plus, working with professors and curators within the Nasher, I’ve seen a kind of “behind the scenes” type of approach to museum exhibits, and all of the work that goes into the planning.

Jessica works on the lab project The Lives of Things, was an instrumental part of Simon Verity’s January 2015 residency, and recently completed this in-class group project. She is currently working to complete her MA thesis, which focuses on creating interactive digital resources for museum education.

UPDATE: Jessica is continuing her studies in museum education at the PhD level.

Jordan Noyes: Ephemeral Art & Digital Exhibitions

November 19, 2014
Jordan Noyes

The Wired! Lab’s Master’s program in Historical & Cultural Visualization was begun this past August. We are excited to have three students participating. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be posting a profile of each student to highlight their academic interests and their studies in HCVIS.

Jordan Noyes, who graduated from Duke in 2014 with a BA in Art History, joined the MA program after engaging with several Wired! projects as an undergraduate. During her undergraduate studies, she was also involved in the Franklin Humanities Institute’s BorderWork(s) Lab and held two internships at the Nasher Museum of Art, first as an Education Intern and then as a Curatorial Intern. She now works in the Nasher’s Visitor Services.

Jordan studies both Classical Renaissance and contemporary art, with a particular interest in street art. For her senior thesis, she completed both a paper and a project that examine street art and graffiti on political border walls such as the Mexico-United States barrier, the Israeli West Bank barrier, and the Berlin Wall. In developing her research, Jordan highlighted the importance of understanding the artworks’ contexts, spatial signficance, inseparability from wall surfaces, audience perceptions, and political performativity. The project portion of her research, created using Omeka and Neatline, focuses in particular on the Berlin Wall from 1980-89. She will be advancing this research at the MA level, and we are looking forward to sharing her continued work in the future!

For Jordan, the MA in HCVIS provides a great opportunity to hone her skills and knowledge of both digital tools and art history. She notes that a working knowledge of digital humanities and its contributions to art history and museum studies will be useful to her in future research and employment. Jordan hopes to continue her research after this program, and is interested in working in a museum setting and in engaging public audiences in intellectual discussions about art history and visual culture.

UPDATE: Jordan now works as an Instructional Technologist at Muhlenberg College.