Alife Arch App

Mark OlsonEd Triplett

This wonderful arch consists of intertwined men and animals combined in a frightening vision of suffering in Hell or Purgatory.  The arch is from the Cathedral of Alife, an ancient Roman city near Naples, Italy, and is a remarkable example of Italian Romanesque sculpture.  The analysis of the marble of the individual pieces  indicates that they were carved from Roman materials originally from quarries in Italy, Turkey, and the Greek islands. Fragments of ancient sculpture can be seen on the reverse side of the medieval carving.

A team of Duke students is developing an interactive visualization to engage museum visitors with the history and meaning of this remarkable work of art.


Caroline Bruzelius

Jessica Chen

Anna Cunningham

Marina Frattaroli

Lucas Giles

Adair Jones

Lucian Li

Gabriella Salvatore


Wired! The Lives of Things


The Alife Arch

The Lives of Things

Augmenting Scoletta del Carmine

MONADII: Methodologies and Best Practice for Non-Destructive Approaches to Interoperable Design and Management of Cultural Heritage
Rachele Bernardello, Emanuela Faresin, Mirka Dalla Longa, Guilia Piccinin
Spring 2018

This research project, in part developed in the Wired! Lab at Duke University, celebrates the Scoletta del Carmine, a fifteenth-century space that originally functioned as the seat of the Carmelite confraternity in Padua, Italy. The historical research and digital surveys (photogrammetry, laser scans, geo-radar, and thermo-camera imagery) have formed the basis for a digital reconstruction of the Scoletta in relationship to the adjacent church of Santa Maria del Carmine. The interior reconstruction benefits from the scientific analysis of the frescoes, namely the perspectival restitution of the imagery, which has enabled 3D modeling of the painted spaces and fictive architecture. This data is presented in three different Virtual Reality platforms—the Oculus Rift, the Cave (Duke DiVE), and web VR. Beginning in July 2018, these dynamic and multi-sensory experiences can be enjoyed by the broad and varied public who visits the Scoletta in Padua, part of an academic/touristic itinerary developed by the School of Architecture and Engineering at the University of Padua.

The Crystal Palace

Victoria Szabo

This project seeks to consider the Great Exhibition of 1851 as a place constructed in a highly determined space located in the physical and metaphorical heart of British colonial power. Famous both for the building itself, Paxton’s Crystal Palace, and the diverse objects and people from around the world that it contained, the Exhibition is nonetheless difficult to study as a spatial phenomenon due to its sheer complexity and scope. The diverse array of artworks, artifacts, machines, inventions, craft objects and human tableaux that were shown are richly documented in planning documents, photos, paintings, catalogs, engravings, new stories, travel narratives, and imaginative literature; the building itself is a favorite of architectural historians and engineers, who have reconstructed it in 3D numerous times.

This project attempts to brings together those approaches through an annotated virtual reconstruction of the Crystal Palace, to be populated by both the objects it contained, and the “users” who traversed it, in order to ask questions about the rhetoric of the place itself as a site of cultural self-representation and experience. Because no one technology adequately addresses this goal, our approaches brings together GIS and Google Earth assisted thematic maps and views of the content, contributor networks, and visitors to the Exhibition, as well as populated 3D immersive models to be experienced through the DiVE, virtual worlds and game environments. Underlying all of these will be a common database substrate of annotation and documentation, ideally accessible from any “view” – whether a website, 3D model, map, or immersive game-space.


Raquel Salvatella de Prada

The Visualization Technology Group

The Virtual Realities FOCUS

Death, Burial, and Commemoration in Athens from antiquity to the late 19th century.

Sheila Dillon

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.


Caroline Bruzelius, Andrea Giordano, Cosimo Monteleone
2013 - 2015 | Project Website

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:

Duke/Durham Ghosts

Victoria Szabo
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.




Victoria SzaboPaolo BorinLudovica Galeazzo

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.


Visualizing Venice

Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany Collaboration

Timothy Senior, Victoria SzaboFlorian Wiencek

Duke has established a close relationship with members of the Jacobs University community in Bremen, Germany. In 2012-13 several Jacobs graduate students came to campus as exchange students. We taught our Digital Cities course, which was coupled virtually with a course at Jacobs. Both courses met at the same time and videoconferences discussion and workshop sessions with one another, as well as sharing project crits.

This project was presented at the Digital Heritage International Congress 2013 and subsequently published:

Digital Cities: A collaborative engagement with urban heritage


Digital Cities: Representing the Past and Inventing the Future

Mapping and Modeling Religious Communities in Medieval Europe

Caroline Bruzelius

We have been modeling building process and change in a number of mendicant convents in Europe (Oxford, Naples, Millan, and Folloni). A project for the Franciscan community near Naples, undertaken with the excavation team at the convent, engineers at the Centro Nazionale di Ricerca in Potenza, and scholars at the University of Naples, has resulted in an online video.

The project has been translated into Italian and is displayed in the convent’s museum. We are engaged in creating other digital models of Franciscan churches of Southern Italy, as a potential component of a 3-year NEH-funded Collaborative Research Grant for a database on the medieval Kingdom of Sicily.


Michal Koszycki (Trinity ’09)

Rebecca Wood (Trinity ’09)


The Mendicant Revolution

Old Stones and New Technologies

Computer Vision and Medieval Walls
Caroline Bruzelius, Carlo Tomasi

Professor Caroline Bruzelius (Art, Art History & Visual Studies) led a team of Duke undergraduate students on a research trip to Naples over Spring break 2013. They used the opportunity to test a new data capture system for use with medieval masonry, working primarily in the church of San Lorenzo, a Franciscan basilica in the heart of medieval Naples. The students are experimenting with an analytic system for the study of historic buildings through pattern recognition, data mining, and texture analysis. Their research works with computational analytics to examine the surface textures left by masons on building stones in order to extract information on the technology of stonecutting, possibly identify individual masons (tool marks are like signatures), and eventually provide educated estimates on the size of the labor force. This project is part of a multi-year research and teaching initiative that will result in independent research and senior distinction theses for undergraduates. The student team works closely with Professor Bruzelius and Professor Carlo Tomasi (Computer Science) to collect data, develop and eventually test the new analytic systems with the intention of creating a systematic protocol for the study of walls, carved surfaces (flat and curved) and masonry construction in historic buildings and eventually sculpture. Duke students involved in this project may be in a position to provide an original contribution to scholarship of on-going utility that might have broader implications for fields of study in restoration of historic monuments as well as Ancient and Medieval Sculpture, Archaeology, and Architectural and Urban History.


Old Stones and New Technologies: Computer Vision and Medieval Stone Carving

Stone Carving Images