Sta. Chiara Team in Barcelona

June 14, 2017

MA in Digital Art History graduate Lucas Giles presents the Sta. Chiara project in Barcelona. (Photo credit: Caroline Bruzelius)

The Duke/Naples/Padua collaborative team was recently invited by the Paisajes spirituales research group at the University of Barcelona to present their digital reconstruction of the choir screen at the church of Santa Chiara in Naples.  

At Santa Chiara, a convent church, the nuns were separated from the Franciscan community by a high wall penetrated by grates. The friars’ area, and the area of the royal tombs, were also separated by a monumental structure, a choir screen, that was destroyed in the late 16th century. Through digital reconstruction and visualization the team hoped to reimagine the division of space within the church that would have impacted individual experiences of sacred rituals. No images of the choir screen survive, so the team worked with Professor Leopoldo Repola at the Suor Orsola University in Naples to locate the choir screen’s foundations using ground-penetrating radar.

To create a highly detailed 3D point cloud of the church, the team collaborated with Dott.ssa Emanuela de Feo, from the University of Salerno, who had made a laser scan of the structure. The Duke team, which consisted of MA in Digital Art History graduate, Lucas Giles, and Professor Caroline Bruzelius, then worked closely with two architecture students from the University of Padua, Elisa Castagna and Andrea Basso, to construct a CAD model of the church and choir screen. The team used as evidence not only the GPR and laser scans, but also historical documentation of contemporary choir screens.

With the help of David Zielinski, the team later used Unity3D to create a life-sized experience of the choir screen’s effect within Santa Chiara’s interior in Duke’s Virtual Immersive Environment (DiVE). In a further continuation of the project, the team are now developing an app for mobile devices to visualize the model for church visitors. 

Members of the project team with their host. Left to right: Lucas Giles (Duke ’16), Elisa Castagna (Padua), Umberto Plaja (Duke ’10), Andrea Basso (Padua), Caroline Bruzelius (Duke), Nuria Jornet (University of Barcelona). (Photo credit: Caroline Bruzelius)

The project team presented their project to the community in Naples in Spring 2017.

A New Director for Wired!

The Wired! community is pleased to announce that Paul Jaskot is joining Duke as a Professor of Art History and Director of the Wired! Lab for digital art history & visual culture.

Photo Credit: DePaul University/Jeff Carrion

Jaskot was previously Professor of the History of Art and Architecture and Director of Studio χ at DePaul University. He specializes in the history of modern German architecture and art, with a particular interest in the political history of architecture before, during, and after the Nazi era. He has also published on Holocaust Studies topics more broadly, modern architecture including the history of Chicago architecture, methodological essays on Marxist art history, and diverse topics in Digital Art History. He has authored or edited several monographs and anthologies, including The Nazi Perpetrator: Postwar German Art and the Politics of the Right (University of Minnesota Press, 2012).


Paul has also been deeply involved in Digital Art History issues for the past decade, both as a scholar and as an advocate. In this role, he has been part of the Holocaust Geography Collaborative, an international team of scholars that has been exploring the use of GIS and other digital methods to analyze central problems in the history of the Holocaust, including issues rising from the built environment. He has worked most closely with Anne Kelly Knowles (University of Maine), co-authoring several presentations and essays with her, most recently as part of the anthology Geographies of the Holocaust (University of Indiana Press, 2014), the first volume on the use of GIS for the study of the Holocaust. This work has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities, among other sources.

From Jaskot’s current mapping project, which examines patterns of commercial, governmental, and infrastructural building in western & Nazi-occupied Europe.

From 2008-2010, he was the President of the College Art Association (CAA). With CAA, he has also participated in various task forces promoting the support of and guidelines for Digital Art History and its professional evaluation. Paul and Anne also co-directed the Samuel  H. Kress Foundation Summer Institute on Digital Mapping and Art History.  He continues to be active with CAA and with the promotion of Digital Art History initiatives nationally.


As the Wired! community welcomes Paul Jaskot, we also bid farewell to Wired! Lab cofounder, champion, and Director, Caroline Bruzelius, who will be taking a sabbatical in 2017-18 before her retirement from Duke in summer 2018.


Caroline Bruzelius, Anne M. Cogan Professor of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, works on architecture, sculpture, and urbanism in the Middle Ages. She has published on French Gothic architecture (for example, the abbey church of St.-Denis and Notre Dame in Paris) as well as on medieval architecture in Italy, in particular Naples in the 13th and 14th centuries (in both English and Italian editions). She recently published a book on Franciscan and Dominican architecture, Preaching, Building and Burying. Friars in the Medieval City (Yale U. Press, 2014). Bruzelius has also published numerous articles on the architecture of medieval nuns and architectural enclosure, an area in which she did pioneering work. She has been awarded numerous grants and prizes, including grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Max-Planck Institute (Hertziana Library), and the Fulbright Association. She is former Director of the American Academy in Rome, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and at the Medieval Academy.


Bruzelius has worked tirelessly with her colleagues to build a vibrant community engages digital technologies in art history and visual culture teaching and research. Beginning with the Wired! course in 2009, Bruzelius’ work in the lab has included the development of such projects as The Lives of Things and The Kingdom of Sicily Image Database. The lab has also seen her cultivation of international collaboration in the form of Visualizing Venice. Her digital art history courses have included extremely popular Gothic Cathedrals, The Mendicant Revolution, and Introduction to Art History: Mapping the Movement of Men & Materials, and others that have resulted in projects such as the Alife Arch App.

Bruzelius with the Alife Arch App student research team, spring 2017.

She also worked to found the MA track in Digital Art History, part of the new MA in Digital Art History/Computational Media. In this program, she most recently advised Lucas Giles, whose thesis formed part of an international collaborative research project that used laser scanning, ground-penetrating radar, 3D modeling, and virtual reality to explore the division of space and the mysteries of a destroyed choir screen in the medieval Sta. Chiara church in Naples.

A section of the Alife Arch, Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University.

While on sabbatical, Caroline Bruzelius will start a book, The Cathedral and the City, which explores the social, topographical and economic implications of the gigantic new cathedrals erected in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.

Alumni Spotlight: Hanna Wiegers ’16 describes her research opportunities

May 12, 2017
Hanna Wiegers

I first worked with the Wired! Lab first as a research assistant for Sara Galletti‘s Paris of Waters project. Over the course of my tenure as her assistant, which included a summer fellowship in the lab, I translated tomes of 16th and 17th century French city records in order to generate a database of any entries concerning water and its related infrastructure. This project enabled me to become familiar with the community in the Wired! Lab, and I ultimately pursued a distinction project during my senior year with Caroline Bruzelius. For this project, I studied a thirteenth century Dominican convent in Paris, the Couvent Saint Jacques, that was eventually destroyed in the aftermath of the French Revolution. I aimed to create a digital three-dimensional model of the building to recover its original appearance. While I never completed the model, my colleague in my masters program at Columbia did create one that reflects both of our research on the convent’s complex. My contribution was primarily in terms of tombs: who was buried in this complex, why was this convent an important burial ground, and how did the location of burial within the church reflect a social hierarchy? I continue to study how digital technologies can enhance more conventional art historical studies, especially in the realm of architecture.


Image Credits: Hanna Wiegers

Alumni Spotlight: Tara Trahey ’15 on collaboration, digital humanities, & graduate school

May 8, 2017
Tara Trahey

Tara Trahey graduated from Duke in 2015 with a double major in Visual Arts/Art History and European and Italian Studies and a minor in Classical Civilizations. She received a full fellowship to study Classical Archaeology at the University of Oxford, thanks to the generous Ertegun Graduate Scholarship Programme in the Humanities. She received a Master of Studies from Oxford in 2016. She is now completing her first year in the Art History and Archaeology PhD program at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University.

How did you first become involved in the Wired Lab?

I first became involved in the Wired! Lab after taking a course with Sheila Dillon during the spring of my freshman year. While researching for an assignment in the course Women in the Classical World, I stumbled upon two “twin” vases, which soon became a long-term research project. Professor Dillon soon became my research mentor and introduced me to Wired, where I began to work on my project alongside others in the lab.

What did you learn from your experience working in the lab?

My first significant takeaway from the lab is what incredibly valuable work can be done through collaboration—in particular, collaboration between students, faculty, and graduate students. This is not a particularly common working method in the humanities, and I really believe that it should be actively encouraged across humanities disciplines. The lab space was an “even playing field” where everyone’s contributions were seen as valuable. That collaborative and inclusive atmosphere is what encouraged me to recognize that my ideas, even as a young student, were worth pursuing. There is also something unique in the experience of being closely involved with your professors in a research setting. It is a working method that is useful both inside and outside the lab, as it facilitates more productive classroom engagement in courses outside of the lab as well.

How did your work in the Wired Lab influence your academic growth at Duke?

The success of my research at Duke is due in large part to my experience in the Wired! Lab. Without spending time in the lab, I do not think I would have pursued the use of software in making sense of traditional Greek vase scholarship. My recently published article is based upon the use of digital methods that I explored while spending time in the Wired! Lab. Beyond this, my introduction to the Wired! Lab early in my undergraduate career changed the way I engaged in all my courses at Duke. I felt supported and encouraged to take initiative, and also to think creatively about the ways in which new questions can be asked of seemingly “old” scholarship.

Is there a connection between your current work/studies and your prior work with the lab?

In my PhD program I will be taking three years of coursework before beginning work on my dissertation. I certainly see my dissertation work involving digital humanities research, and I have enjoyed learning about the projects of graduate students here at NYU who have taken part in internships and fellowships through the Digital Humanities Center at NYU. I chose a PhD program that facilitates and supports digital humanities research projects, and I look forward to taking advantage of the resources. This upcoming fall I will be taking a course on the Introduction to Python through the Program in Digital Humanities and Social Science at NYU, and I am so happy to finally work my way into coding languages so that I can begin manipulating my own data visualizations.

Image Credit: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Transforming Art History in the Digital Revolution

June 12, 2017
The Courtauld Institute of Art

Professor Caroline Bruzelius will be delivering the keynote at the Digital Art History Research Group (#DAHRG) Seminar at The Courtauld Institute of Art on June 12, 2017. In her talk, she will reflect on the ways in which technology can transform experiences of seeing and being in the world, engaging several public-facing projects, including Visualizing Venice, The Kingdom of Sicily Image Database, and the Sarlat Apostles Color Project.

The image above is provided courtesy of Wikipedia and modified to fit the format of this website.

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.

‘Prayers Long Silent’: Protecting endangered heritage in post-conflict Cyprus

April 13, 2017
The Collision Space (Smith Warehouse | Bay 10 | A266)

The Wired! Lab is pleased to host, in collaboration with the Computational Media Arts & Cultures Rendezvous, Michael J.K. Walsh, Associate Professor of Art History, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

“‘Prayers Long Silent’: Protecting endangered heritage in post-conflict Cyprus”

The walled city of Famagusta, Cyprus, with its French Gothic churches, exquisite 14th-century frescoes, towering Venetian walls, domed Ottoman hamams, and majestic British Imperial architecture, should be a UNESCO World Heritage Site – but it is not. Instead, as a result of the Turkish military intervention in 1974 and the ensuing political stalemate that exists to this day, the city and its heritage have become dangerously isolated – its architectural and art-historical treasures within its walls virtually forgotten.

Following the successful nomination of Famagusta to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) Watch List in 2008 and 2010, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (with the WMF and the Famagusta Municipality) led a series of international efforts to protect, stabilize and study Famagusta’s irreplaceable heritage, and in particular its extant murals. This presentation will discuss this initiative, and highlight the interdisciplinarity of the project ranging as it did from emergency mural conservation to VR reconstruction; from pedagogical projects to the intricacies of international law; from GPR mapping to 700 year old Armenian archives. The presentation will include the screening of a short documentary film produced to highlight the relationship between culture and politics, and the interface between art history and technology.


Michael J. K. Walsh F.R.S.A., FRHistS., conducted his graduate studies at the Universities of St. Andrews, Cambridge and York, before joining the Department of Archaeology and Art History at Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta. In his time there he successfully nominated the historic city of Famagusta for inclusion in the World Monuments Fund Watch List (twice) and also acted as team coordinator for the United Nations project ‘Cultural Heritage Data Collection in the northern part of Cyprus’. He has edited and co-edited four books on Famagusta, including Medieval and Renaissance Famagusta (Ashgate, 2012), Crusader to Venetian Famagusta (Central European University Press, 2014), Famagusta: Contemporary Images from an Historic City (Datz Press, 2015), and City of Empires: Ottoman and British Famagusta (CSP, 2015). A fifth book entitled Prayers Long Silent: Famagusta’s Armenian Church and the Complexity of Cypriot Heritage will be published by Palgrave MacMillan this week.

ARLIS/NA Reviews Kingdom of Sicily Database

April 5, 2017

The Medieval Kingdom of Sicily Image Database has received a review in the Art Libraries Society of North America Multimedia & Technology Reviews. Among her comments, the reviewer notes that “The Medieval Kingdom of Sicily Image Database really takes advantage of a robust search interface and linked data, both features, which have the ability to take research to the next level.”

Read the full review and experience the database for yourself!

Upcoming Duke & Wired! Events

March 23, 2017

We in the lab are excited about the range of conversations happening around digital humanities at Duke this spring! Here are some of the upcoming events that feature Wired! Lab scholars:

Monday, March 20th

Munch & Mull Duke Libraries Discussion Group
Unconventional Curriculum — Encouraging students’ scholarly use of images
12:00-1:00pm – Lee Sorensen
(Murthy Digital Studio, Bostock Library)

Friday, March 24th

“Humanities at Large” Visiting Faculty Fellows Conference
Transforming Pedagogy: How can we best engage undergraduate students in the process of research and the production of knowledge in the Humanities?
1:00-2:30pm – Sheila Dillon & Elizabeth Langridge-Noti
(Holsti-Anderson Family Assembly Room, 153 Rubenstein Library)

What is the future of digital humanities?
This event will feature speakers on the topical issue of digital humanities and its ramifications for the future direction of Comparative Literature studies.
2:30-5:30pm – Valerie Beaudouin, Caroline Bruzelius, Alex Gil
(Perkins 217)

Thursday, March 30th

GIS Summit: Dissecting Humanities GIS Projects: Cross-sections, Guts and a Good Story
The purpose of this lecture and round-table discussion is to construct a cross-section of the spatial humanities process by dissecting a handful of projects according to their purpose, tools chosen, required knowledge, and audience.
4:00-6:00pm – Edward Triplett, Brian Norberg
(Collision Space – Bay 10, 2nd Floor)

Friday, March 31st

GIS Summit: 3D Mapping
3D Mapping for Historical Subjects – Opportunities and ObstaclesEdward Triplett
Cesium, open formats and the future of streaming 3D geospatial over the web – Todd Smith (Product Manager, Cesium)
(PhD Lab, Bay 4, 1st Floor, Smith Warehouse)

Visualization Friday Forum
Digital Visualizations of an Early Modern Portrait of Venice
12:00-1:00pm – Kristin Huffman
(D106 LSRC)

Wednesday, April 12th

Managing Qualitative Research
Talk and moderated discussion with PhD students about challenges to managing and analyzing their research data and the ways in which digital tools (DEVONThink and NVivo, respectively) helped them to address these needs.
12:00-1:00pm – Kathryn Desplanque, Andrew Van Horn Ruoss, Victoria Szabo (moderator)
(Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall – C105, Bay 4 (South), Smith Warehouse)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

FHI-NCCU Digital Humanities Fellows Symposium
Please join us for this half-day symposium marking the end of the first year of the Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI) – North Carolina Central University (NCCU) Digital Humanities Initiative.
10:00am – 2:00pm
(North Carolina Central University)

Sta. Chiara Team to Present in Naples

March 2, 2017

After an exciting year of discovery, the international team of scholars and students investigating the history of Sta. Chiara’s lost choir screen will present their findings at the site of study. Congratulations to all on their hard work and scholarly contribution to historic understandings of Sta. Chiara in Naples and medieval Italian architecture! Read more about the project and about the research team.