Wired! team at the NGA Datathon

Christine Liu

Last month, a team from the Wired! lab represented Duke University at the National Gallery of Art’s Datathon. The Gallery’s full permanent collection data was released to six teams of researchers from institutions. The Datathon coincided with other major efforts by the Gallery to make its collection more widely available to the public. The Gallery is in the process of donating 53,000 images of works of art to Wikimedia Commons. Questions from curators, conservators, and researchers guided analysis of the released data, and teams were encouraged to pursue whichever avenues of inquiry they found most compelling. The study culminated in a two-day Datathon during which teams finalized their visualizations and presented their findings on Friday, October 25, 2019.

The Wired! team consisted of Hannah Jacobs, Paul Jaskot, Christine Liu, Mark Olson, Victoria Szabo, Edward Triplett, and Augustus Wendell. Their presentation titled, “Down the Spatial Rabbit Hole of Ambiguous Data and Art Historical Questions at the National Gallery of Art” looked toward deciphering spatial narratives of the NGA’s Widener Collection, looking at works with saints in the collection, and relationships between the gallery and art history as a whole. The entire presentation is available online, the Wired! team’s presentation begins at the 1:07:00 mark.

Student Spotlight: Kerry Rork’s Summer at the Nixon Library

October 11, 2019

Christine Liu

Kerry Rork is a sophomore majoring in History and Political Science, and minoring in Philosophy. Over the summer she interned at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum in Yorba Linda, California. Here she shares how her work with the Dictionary of Art Historians helped prepared her for working with archives and the work she did at the library.

Over the summer, I interned at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in the National Archives division. My position was primarily to digitize approximately 2,000 pages of recently declassified textual materials from POW/MIA files. These files were then added to the library site, within Drupal content management, for scholars to explore. After reading through these documents, I created a series scope and content note to make the files more accessible, which was then published to the website. I also worked in archival maintenance and assisted archivists to pull boxes for researchers within the stack areas.

When applying for the internship, I included my position with Dictionary of Art Historians. I discussed that I had developed analytical skills in formulating and compiling documents and archival information. I also described how much of my work would be applicable to an archival department aiming to further construct their research database. For the dictionary, I work on building a scholarly source for historians by piecing together the lives of art historians – particularly women of the 19th and 20th centuries – through everything from newspaper clippings to dissertations

Ultimately, it was working with the Wired! Lab and Dictionary of Art Historians that made me stand out in the applicant pool and eventually get the position. Throughout the summer, much of my research drew upon the skills from Dictionary of Art Historians – from examining archival documents to writing my research on POW/MIA files. It was this work at the Wired! Lab that best prepared me for working on archives and research at the Nixon library.

Image Credit: Kerry Rork


Dictionary of Art Historians

News & Events

A New Site for the Dictionary of Art Historians

Wired! Lab Celebrates 10 Years

October 18, 2019
Nasher Museum of Art | Duke University

**UPDATE 10/17/19: Tonight’s Keynote has been cancelled. The symposium will begin as scheduled at 9:00AM on Friday, October 18th.**

Over the past decade, the use of digital methods has exploded in the study of art history and visual culture. As with other areas of the digital humanities, art historians and visual culture scholars have used a very wide range of approaches. Still, increasingly, one of the core areas that art history and visual culture have particular focused on is the analysis of spatial problems through computational methods and digital visualization.

On Friday, October 18th, please join us to reflect on contributions of art historians and visual culture scholars to the spatial digital humanities at Centering Art History & Visual Culture in the Digital Humanities: A Symposium Celebrating 10 Years of the Wired! Lab at Duke.

Find out more: sites.duke.edu/centeringdh | #centeringdh

Register: https://sites.duke.edu/centeringdh/registration/

Watch the livestream:
Friday Morning – http://bit.ly/CenteringDH-FridayMorning
Friday Afternoon – http://bit.ly/CenteringDH-FridayAfternoon


October 17, 2019 — CANCELLED

Keynote: “Digital Architectural and Art History: A View from the Field”

Patricia Morton, University of California, Riverside

October 18, 2019 — BEGINS AT 9:00AM

I. Morning Session: Spatial Problems Across Time 

“No One of Us Is Them: Diverse Proxy Phenomenology in Pompeii”

David Fredrick, University of Arkansas

“Experiencing Temporalities: Space and Pace in Late Ottoman Istanbul”

Burcak Ozludil, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and Augustus Wendell, Duke University

“The Rules of Engagement: Thoughts about prolonged user interaction with virtual environments with a focus on UCLA’s reconstruction model of the World’s Columbian Exposition (Chicago, 1893)”

Lisa Snyder, University of California, Los Angeles

II.Afternoon Session: Digital Methods in the Early Modern Moment

“Mapping Social Context: The DECIMA as a Platform for Spatial Art History”

Colin Rose, Brock University

“The Mind of Michelangelo on Paper”

Mauro Mussolin, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and Leonardo Pili, Graphic Designer

“Visualizing Lost Landscapes: Sources, Stratigraphy, and Close Reading in Mapping Qing Imperial Parks”

Stephen Whiteman, Courtauld Institute of Art

III. Roundtable: Past and Futures of the Spatial Humanities for Art History and Visual 

Wired! Lab Faculty and Staff


Sponsored by the Wired! Lab for Art History & Visual Culture and the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies. Free and open to the public.

CFP: CAA 2020 Lost in Translation: Early Modern Global Art History & the Digital Humanities

July 13, 2019

Wired! Lab director Paul Jaskot is co-chair of a session on digital art history at the College Art Association’s 2020 conference. The session is currently accepting proposals.

Deadline to submit: July 23, 2019

Proposal instructions

Session Date & Time: Thursday, February 13, 2020: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM

Session Location: Wilford C (Hilton Chicago)

Affiliated Society or Committee Name: Digital Art History Society

This session seeks to draw on two current art historical issues: 1) that many leading digital art historical projects are centered on examples from the early modern world; and 2) that there is a widespread need across art historical fields to look to strong exemplars to help model the inevitable acts of translation between and across humanistic and computational scholarship. This panel seeks papers that address any aspect of digital humanities work on an early modern topic. From Latin America to East Asia, from the Mediterranean basin to the Black Atlantic, outstanding work has been done in bringing data-driven methods to bear on art historical evidence. How have art historians negotiated the intellectual world of “technologists,” and do we have successful examples of new “languages” and other outcomes collaboratively forged by art historians and technologists? What have computational scholars found interesting or challenging in working with art historical datasets and questions? And, more broadly, why is the early modern world such a fecund area for art historical and computational discovery? In proposing these questions, we particularly encourage submissions from collaborative presenters and/or about collaborative projects that represent both digital and humanities’ perspectives. Our goal is to invite papers engaging crucial questions in early modern art histories—thus appealing to a large area of CAA interest—and papers that, in the process, also address the incorporation of computational methods. Proposals that emphasize the communication (or failure of communication) between digital and humanities’ approaches are especially welcome.

Field of Study:
Early Modern (1450-1800)
Digital Media (history and studio)
Digital Humanities


Paul B. Jaskot, Duke University – paul.jaskot@duke.edu

Meredith J. Gill, University of Maryland – mgill@umd.edu

MA Thesis Showcase Recap

Christine Liu

On April 23, 2019 we had our MA Thesis Showcase to celebrate the work of our Spring 2019 MA in Digital Art History/Computational Media graduates. Here’s a brief recap of the projects that the students presented and a look at some of the digital components they’ve made.


Rob Arcand, “Stack Music: Spotify and the Platformization of the Digital Music Commodity”

Rob’s work looks at music’s changing commodity status, arriving at the moment of “digital music as a canary in the coal mine of informatic or cognitive capitalism.” Stack, software platforming, reveal the material basis of platforms in the technological components on which they rely. He focuses on the machine listening aspect of Spotify, which developed as a way to solve data science problems – based on the premise that sound can function as a computational utility. Rob argues that algorithms shape and are shaped by a cultural life. Data and algorithms are the means by which the music, film, and culture industries are each becoming leaner, reshaped by data-oriented practices in an effort to cut costs and streamline cultural production. Music’s commodification no longer exists at the level of digital files but at a whole industry level where platforms like Spotify are an intermediary between users, artists, and advertisers. For his digital component, Rob created a site that you can see here.


Angelina Liu: “The Alife Bestiary: An AR Object Recognition Project on the Archivolt of Alife”

Angelina’s project worked with the Alife Arch currently in the Brummer’s Collection at the Nasher Museum of Art, the piece was originally an archivolt on the Alife Cathedral. She worked to study one of the most immediately visual elements of the arch – the iconography on the arch’s surface. For her digital project, Angelina worked with AR to annotate a real world object pseudo-directly. As a tool, AR provides a more immediate experience with the objects. The purpose of app is to use AR interactivity to explore the iconography, using object recognition to encourage users to look at the object and displays directly. Other benefits of AR include the ability to show more complex non-linear explanations about the iconography, promote learning on site rather than through a website or pamphlet. As Angelina argues, AR can be more effective in information retention (as applied to paintings) than guided tours.


Kira Xie, “Reimagining Model Minority: An Inquiry into the Post-1965 Chinese Immigration in the United States.”

In her thesis, Kira tackles the Model Minority Theory, from a 1966 article from the US News and World Report. The trope describes Chinese and other Asian Americans based on their education and professional success. Kira’s thesis elaborates on the idea of model minority and on ideas of Chinese immigrants to look at the issues they confront. The projects relies on reports on geographic distribution, census data, Tableau visualization, and oral history. Kira built a website on WordPress, raise history and awareness of issues of Chinese immigration as a means to allow readers to experience the thesis in a non-linear fashion.  She questions the Model Minority Myth as presenting both achievements and challenges.  It has created a problematic image of the minority group as a monolith and obscured problems. Chinese immigrants still face problems with education on a high school basis, glass ceiling in professional settings, and cultural association. Misconceptions of Chinese people not being able to work well in professional settings – image of perpetual stranger still affects their image in America. A cultural emphasis on education for the earlier generations of immigrants was made in hopes of raising a pathway for subsequent generations. Kira hopes that her thesis will be a living history of Chinese immigrants in the US, it will help immigrants learn about their history, and how different perspectives. The accompanying website she created can be seen here.

Image Credits: Hannah Jacobs, Angelina Liu

Jessica Williams ’19: On Robert Willis and Architectural History

Christine Liu

Jessica Williams is a senior majoring in Art History, and minoring in Psychology and Political Science. Her Graduation with Distinction project came out of her work with the Wired! Lab, read more about the project and her future plans below. 

Please describe your thesis project:
My thesis is entitled Robert Willis (1800-1875) and the Historiography of Italian Gothic Architecture. Described as the “father of architectural history,” British academic Robert Willis was extremely influential to the development of methodologies in studying, as well as the nomenclature for, Gothic architecture. In spite of this, he has largely been forgotten by the art historical field, with his early work receiving especially little attention. My thesis focuses on the notes and drawings Willis created for his first publication on architecture, Remarks on the Architecture of the Middle Ages, Especially of Italy, which have to this point been left out of Willis’s narrative. I travelled to London over the summer with a Dean’s Summer Research grant to access Willis’s sketchbooks. I argue that these drawings mark a key moment in Willis’s development as an architectural historian, in which he applies his previously scientific mindset to the study of buildings.

Which Wired! project did it come out of and what are your duties in the project?
My thesis developed from an idea from The Medieval Kingdom of Sicily Image DatabaseI am currently the team leader of the project, and have worked on the Database since my freshman year. I collect and enter images of Sicilian medieval monuments into our database, including many images I collected from Willis’s materials.

Has your thesis work factored at all into what you hope to do after graduation?
Yes! After taking a gap year working in museums, I plan to go to graduate school to pursue a PhD in art history.

Image Credits: Jessica Williams

MA Student Alan Carrillo on the Wawel, 3D Modeling, and Templar Typology

April 24, 2019

Christine Liu

As the Spring 2019 semester comes to a close, MA Student Alan Carrillo speaks on the models he’s being making in the Wired! Lab, what he’s learned in his first year, and how everything will come together in his thesis.

What are you working on in the Wired! Lab?
I am working on a digital reconstruction of the Wawel Royal Residence in Kraków. It is not merely a reconstruction of what exists today, but instead, we focus on tracing the different construction phases from its conception to the war period. The reconstruction is a part of Paul Jaskot’s broader project, Mapping German Construction. Our attention is currently on occupied Kraków during WWII. I work on one of three fronts, the other being the Ideal Plan and the Ghetto. Our interest in the Wawel stems from Hans Frank’s (the Governor-General of the Generalgouvernement) decision to make it his residence.

How does the project fit into your other academic or thesis work?
Before working here at Wired!, I worked on UCLA’s Paris, Past and Present project where we produced digital models of lost Parisian monuments. I came with a background on architectural modeling, but working on this project has helped me enhance my skills on how to cohesively visualize spaces of transition. Exposure to how we can use these newer methods within a larger framework has definitely influenced my approach to my own thesis. I hope to apply a similar methodology to my own work on analyzing Templar typology.

What is your thesis?
I hope to use digital modeling and GIS to analyze Templar construction. The Knights Templar were a military monastic order founded in the 12th c. following the First Crusade. Initially, they were charged with the responsibility of providing safe passage to pilgrims visiting Jerusalem, but they became a powerful and influential presence in medieval Europe. My work looks at how Templars used models and how we can use both analog and digital models to understand them better. Asking: Is there something new to learn using digital methods?

How has the Wired! Lab helped your work?
What truly sets the Wired! Lab apart from other digital humanities labs is the collaborative environment it produces. Students of varying disciplines come together to work on collaborative projects that draw on each individual’s strengths. This creates the opportunity for external input that helps you break from the monotony of working individually, and I think that’s the best part.

Image Credits: Alan Carrillo

Kristin Huffman on Jacopo de’ Barbari’s View of Venice (1500)

April 16, 2019

Kristin L. Huffman

The Wired! Lab’s Kristin Huffman has published an article on “Jacopo De’ Barbari’s View of Venice (1500) ‘Image Vehicles’ and ‘Pathways of Culture’ Past and Present” in Mediterranea. In her abstract, Huffman writes:

This essay focuses on an iconic and ground-breaking woodcut –Jacopo de’ Barbari (c.1460/70–1516) and Anton Kolb’s View of Venice (1500)–and an interactive museum installation that I first developed for Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art. The exhibition uses the View as a point of departure fort he development of multi-media displays about Early Modern Venice and the transfer of knowledge. Adopting Aby Warburg’s illustrative terminology, the essay extends understandings of the woodcut, namely its function as an ‘image vehicle’ and its invention and realization as a product of cultural pathways. This concept, ‘pathways of culture’, also relates to the digital methods and visualized media used in the exhibition where their application advances a new methodology in art history, just as Aby Warburg did in the early twentieth century. And like Warburg who privileged visual imagery and traced its ideological transmission with his Mnemosyne Atlas (1924–1929), the curatorial team of the exhibition uses and systematizes original visualizations to drive the analyses of art, architectural and urban history in new and exciting ways

You can read the full article here.

Publications & Presentations

Huffman, Kristin Love. “Jacopo De’ Barbari’s View of Venice (1500) ‘Image Vehicles’ and ‘Pathways of Culture’ Past and Present.” Mediterranea. International journal for the transfer of knowledge, 4 (2019), 165-214.

Brittany Halberstadt ’19: Social Network Analysis, Data Visualization, and Abstract Expressionism

April 10, 2019

Christine Liu

Brittany Halberstadt is currently a senior majoring in Art History with a concentration in Museum Theory and Practice. Here she shares her distinction project and gives a preview into some of the visualization work she has created. 

My Graduation with Distinction project focuses on the use of Social Network Analysis, Data Visualizations, and Visual Analyses to understand influence, using the development of Abstract Expressionism in the United States as a case study. I use these three methods to suggest new lines of inquiry and to better understand the information gathered from my archival and scholarly sources.

Figure 2. Birth place of 77 individuals in my data set. Created using Tableau on October 10th, 2018.

My current project is a continuation of my work with Professor Paul Jaskot researching exile and émigré artists from Nazi Europe (Dictionary of Art Historians) who traveled to the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. I created a database of exile and emigre artists using information pulled from Varian Fry’s Surrender on Demand, as well as additional scholarly sources.

Figure 3. Jackson Pollock, Troubled Queen, 1945, oil and alkyd (synthetic paint) on canvas, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Image Credits: Brittany Halberstadt

Triangle Digital Humanities Institute on DH Pedagogy

March 25, 2019
John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, Smith Warehouse, Bay 4

Hannah L. Jacobs

On Monday, March 25th, the Wired! Lab, Digital Humanities Initiative at the Franklin Humanities Institute, and Triangle Digital Humanities Network, in collaboration with other units at Duke, will host the Triangle Digital Humanities Institute on Digital Humanities Pedagogy:

Join the Triangle Digital Humanities Network (TDHN) for the first Triangle Digital Humanities Institute (TDHI)! This one-day event aims to build community and skills around digital humanities pedagogy. It will include lightning presentations, roundtables, workshops, and discussion sessions by and for instructors, staff (including, but not limited to, librarians and technologists), and graduate students at universities in the Triangle area. Topics will range from assessing the value of dh pedagogy, presenting classroom case studies, scaling research to fit the classroom, and creating open environments for experimentation to developing collaborative teaching models, designing dh assignments, integrating dh into learning objectives, grading digital projects, and building capacity beyond the individual classroom.

This event will kick off a week of digital humanities events at Duke. Find out more: https://digitalhumanities.duke.edu/dhi-week-2019

Registration is free and open to the public.