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.