Wired Lab for Digital Art History & Visual Culture

Director: Paul Jaskot, Art, Art History & Visual Studies

The Wired! Lab for Digital Art History and Visual Culture brings together an extraordinary group of scholars, staff, and students at Duke University to advance a wide range of research topics in art history and visual culture that involve diverse computational and digital visualization methods.

As a learning community, we engage visualization methods to prompt new approaches to pedagogy and scholarship in the study and interpretation of the visual arts, architecture, cultural heritage, and built environments . Wired! research teams are transdisciplinary, collaborative, vertically integrated, and long-term. We explore how critical engagement with digital tools can transform our capacity to interrogate and contextualize objects, buildings, data, and archival materials; to create narratives about works of art and architecture; to explore process and change over time and space; to redefine teaching and learning practices; to disseminate scholarship; and to engage the public in new ways.

 Since 2009, Wired! has fostered and celebrated the involvement of collaborative teams of faculty, staff, and students  for long-term research initiatives in art history and visual culture. We have particular historical strengths in ancient, medieval, and early modern European studies, which have been complemented more recently with new projects in modern art history  such as the new Building Duke focus area. We are expanding our contributions to contemporary visual culture, especially through the innovative use of digital media and visualization. The public, pedagogical, and intellectual success of our work foster our central commitments at Wired!

 All of our projects (currently 11) begin with historical data collection and organization. Students in Mapping Stereotomy, Digital Public Buildings in NC, and Mapping German Construction are mining historic documents and maps for information about architecture and infrastructure that will form the basis of their GIS analyses and 3D reconstructions . Our teams structure this data into useable, shareable data for further research. The Book of Fortresses project is building a database  to describe the project’s 55 Portuguese fortresses and fortified towns. Visiting University of Padua students developing Augmenting Scoletta del Carmine used building information modeling (BIM) software to create a database fully integrated with their project’s 3D model of a Carmelite confraternity in Padua, Italy. From architecture to objects, we are engaging new methods for scholarly interpretation and presentation. 

 Our core identity is wrapped up in spatial questions, starting from the individual scale of the object up to the urban and even continental analysis of cultural production. Whether we are looking at the “performativity” of an anatomical model or the fortresses between Christian and Muslim forces on the Iberian peninsula, our faculty continue to focus on the analysis of objects in space as well as the computational and digital analytic approach to cultural space. Developing an app or an augmented reality intervention is just as critical for us as a more traditional scholarly or museological output. At Wired!, each project is grounded in historical and cultural research combined with rigorous engagement with digital methods. However different the balance between these two areas might be or how diverse our interests and our projects, they all share and contribute to these core values which in turn develop our student involvement in advanced cultural and computation research.