This research project is a multi-faceted, diachronic study of cemeteries and sculpted funerary monuments in the city of Athens, which explores the shifting locations of burial in the city and the changing ways in which graves were marked from antiquity to the late 19th century CE. The visualization of change over time through mapping and 3-D modeling and the construction of an interactive database are major aims of this project. The first phase will focus on the Kerameikos, the principle burial ground of ancient Athens, and the First Cemetery of Athens, established in the early years of the modern Greek state. The thousands of sculpted funerary monuments preserved from ancient Athens provide a rich source of material that, while well published, have yet to be analyzed, re-contextualized and visualized using digital tools. In addition, a study of the sculptors (mostly from the island of Tinos) who made the Neoclassical monuments in the First Cemetery will serve as a point of departure for exploring the history of sculptors and funerary sculptural production over this long period of time.
The Dictionary of Art Historians became a Wired! project in 2017. This dictionary is a compilation of art historians mentioned in major art historiographies. Biographical and methodological information about art historians can be difficult to find. Tucked away in obscure obituaries or foreign-language Festschriften, the basics of where an art historian trained or who his/her major influence was, or even what methodology the scholarship employs are often impossible to discern. This database is designed to give researchers a beginning point to learning the background of major art historians of western art history.
The Dictionary of Art Historians began in the fall of 1986 by indexing the historians cited in Eugene Kleinbauer’s Research Guide to the History of Western Art (1982) and his Modern Perspectives in Western Art History (1971), neither of which possessed an extensive index. Heinrich Dilly’s Kunstgeschichte als Institution (1979) and some of Kultermann’s Geschichte der Kunstgeschichte (1966), [the latter then only available in German] were added. The project remained dormant for a few years in card file format. In the interim, a myriad of art historiographies appeared or were reprinted. In 1996, the card project was transferred into an electronic form.
Fall 2014 - present
The aim of this project is to produce a comprehensive digital map and database of the archaeological remains of ancient Athens. This project is a collaborative multi-disciplinary endeavor, and involves undergraduate and graduate students at Duke as well as colleagues based in Athens at the American School of Classical Studies. The Duke team is currently focusing on digitizing and geo-referencing excavation plans, including the wealth of material uncovered in the Athens Metro Excavations, and plotting the find locations of burials, wells, sculpture, inscriptions, and industrial workshops. The visualization of how the city changed over time is a major aim of this project. To date (January 2016), we have geo-located approximately 800 burials, almost 300 wells, over 700 pieces of sculpture, and all of the buildings in the Athenian Agora from the Archaic period through late Antiquity. Students interested in participating in this project, which includes opportunities for summer fieldwork on site in Athens, should contact me at sheila.dillon[at]duke.edu.
Dr. Leda Costaki, Research Archivist, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Bruce Hartzler, IT Specialist, Agora Excavations, American School of Classical Studies at Athens
Ancient cities and sanctuaries were once filled with statues. While digital tools have long been used to reconstruct ancient buildings, there has been little attempt to reconstruct the many statues that filled the spaces in between. And, unlike ancient architecture, this statue landscape was forever changing—newer statues were constantly being added. The dense accumulation of statues was an important aspect of the ancient viewing experience of these monuments, which represented visually local social and political history.
While the ancient statue landscape is now difficult to reconstruct and to visualize for a variety of reasons—most bronze statues have long since been destroyed, and many statue bases are not found in situ—the Dromos of the Sanctuary of Apollo on Delos offers a unique opportunity to study the political and spatial dynamics of portrait statue monuments, as the location of the monuments or their foundations were clearly recorded in the state plan published by Rene Vallois in 1923. Many of these bases are still in situ. Because this state plan presents only the final phase of what was in fact a long and complex process that took place over about two centuries, one aim of this project is to unpack the processual dimension of this statuary display and to represent this process visually. By making a model of the Dromos using Google SketchUp, we capture the dynamic and changing nature of this space over time.
Trudi Abel, Victoria Szabo
The Digital Durham archive brings together numerous documents, maps, images, census data, and other primary source materials in a digital form accessible and searchable from the web. This project seeks to activate the archive as a teaching tool and public history resource through the use of annotated maps, multimedia-illustrated essays, and augmented reality tours of the city itself. Students in various Digital Durham related classes over the years have contributed not only to the archive itself, but also to deeper dives into specific research questions about Durham history as localized phenomena of spatial and temporal significance as they relate to race, religion, culture, and economic status. This work is reflected on the site, and in online projects. In addition, some of these essays are being translated to augmented reality experiences accessible via mobile device only from specific GPS points in the city itself, an approach that highlights the importance of they physical materiality and experience of the space itself as we reflect upon historical change over time. Through partnerships with local history institutions, libraries, and schools, we are also exploring collaborative approaches to public history-making in various city neighborhoods as well, including the Walltown area adjacent to Duke’s East Campus.
This project is part of Bass Connections.
Fall 2014 - present
Duke/Durham Ghosts explores the presence of the local past through augmented reality and web-based application design. This project is a partnership between Duke Wired and the Information Science + Information Studies Program. Our goal is to enrich lived experience in space by overlaying images, audio files, and other information from past events onto contemporary sites on campus and beyond. This kind of place-making emphasizes thick histories and rich descriptions of specific spots as ways into understanding a topic or theme in an embodied, spatial way. Building upon earlier ISIS Capstone experiments in ISIS with Preservation Durham on creating AR tours in the city using existing scripts, and on creating an interactive marker-based maps of campus, and on the Visualizing Venice digital heritage projects, our goal is to create a set of downloadable experiences for the public that rely upon original archive research and media authorship by our students. We are currently creating “ghost tours” of the History of Duke Activism, The Transformations of East Campus, and The Construction of West Campus. This involves working with Duke’s Special Collections in the Rubenstein Library to search for (and scan) primary historical materials, mining newspaper archives for relevant coverage of theme events, creating text, image, audio, and video features on specific topics, and organizing them all into map-based databases accessible as websites, augmented reality experiences on campus, and eventually within a virtual game environment.
Students involved with this ongoing project can focus on the historical research, the art and media design components, digital mapping, interface design, and application development. Participants can receive Independent Study credit in either Visual and Media Studies or ISIS, or work as Undergraduate Research Fellows (pending approval) depending upon their interests. ISIS Capstone students in Spring 2015 can also work on the information design, technical and UI components of the project as part of their semester’s work.
This project focuses on the public architecture of North Carolina, from the early Republic to today. Under the general interest in a political history of architecture, we will research major building types (prisons, schools, museums, city halls, etc.) and develop digital maps to visualize the results. The point of the multiyear project will be to produce a dynamic and interactive digital map that allows art historians to query general patterns in publicly sponsored building activity across the state. In addition, specific research into key monumental structures will be highlighted through digital story telling and other means.
2013 - 2015
The Church of the Eremitani in Padua was almost entirely destroyed in the Second World War. Prior to this terrible event, the church was an important center for the spiritual life of Padua, and contained many important works of art, including a chapel decorated with monumental frescoes by Mantegna. Although the building is reconstructed, the restorers themselves made a series of strategic decisions about what and how to repair the monument. Only isolated fragments of Mantegna’s majestic cycle survive, applied to large-scale photographic images of the frescoes prior to their demolition.
This project consists of a complete laser scan and a reconstruction of the church in relation to successive phases of modifications and additions since the early fourteenth century. The project engages with the long history of the Eremitani church as the aggregate of human interventions that added, removed, changed and reconceptualized different parts of the monument over time.
Watch brief video presentations of the project:
Jim Knowles (Grad ’09), Michal Koszycki (Trinity ’09)
Jim Knowles (Grad ’09) and Michal Koszycki (Trinity ’09) combined architectural, archaeological, and literary scholarship to create an animated film which tells the story of the Franciscan and Dominican foundations in Oxford, from their beginnings in the early thirteenth century through Henry VIII’s dissolution of religious houses in the 1530s. Using a sixteenth-century map of Oxford as their visual base layer—a map that shows no traces of the friars’ buildings—the authors first created a 3D virtual cityscape of late medieval Oxford, then superimposed new digital reconstructions (SketchUp models) of the friars’ lost buildings on this virtual map. The film narrates the development of these sites against a backdrop of increasing animosity towards the friars’ architectural expansion and the impingement of their massive compounds on the Oxford cityscape. An online streaming version of the finished film is available for viewing:
The Ghett/App mobile application was developed by Paolo Borin, Ludovica Galeazzo and Victoria Szabo of the Visualizing Venice team to complement the physical exhibition “Venice, the Jews and Europe 1516-2016,” which was held at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice from June 19 – November 13, 2016. Ghett/App is a augmented reality multimedia app designed to be used on-site in the Venetian Ghetto.
It highlights fourteen geolocated points of interest, drawing attention to the built features of the space as they have changed over time, through text, audio, image, video, and augmented reality experiences. While some of the app content was adapted from the museum exhibition as a way to situate the user, the augmented reality features were designed especially for use on location, and to take advantage of being in the actual space under discussion.
The team layered schematic 3D models of historic buildings with contemporary panorama images in order to demonstrate architectural change over time within the once-enclosed area of the Ghetto. Users can use the phone’s motion features to explore the panorama scenes dynamically. The ghostly edifices of the past rise up through the phone display, highlighting the changing nature of experience in the space. The AR features complement text and audio commentaries in English and Italian that explain the significance of particular structures, as well as the overall history of the area. While this version of the project was rolled out in conjunction with the exhibition opening, the team plans to continue developing content out of historical research materials, and integrating it into app channels. They hope to include some new materials developed by students in the Visualizing Venice Summer Workshop, as well as to explore other innovative ways to present content through image recognition and other advanced AR techniques. Szabo plans to include AR storytelling about Venice as a unit in her Digital Storytelling class at Venice International University this Fall as well.