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Change Over Time : Neatline and the Study of Architectural History
Lisa Reilly, University of Virginia at Charlottesville
The study of architectural history poses unique challenges due to the simple fact that buildings change over time and are rarely portable. Comparative study can be difficult as buildings cannot be collected and displayed side by side in a museum. Understanding how the building or its urban context has changed over time can be difficult to visualize. Neatline (www.neatline.org) mitigates some of these challenges by enabling the visual analysis of architecture, topography and urban history across time and space. Furthermore, users will soon be able to compare, manipulate and move three-dimensional representations of buildings. Using Neatline exhibits developed with my students to animate The Travels of Ibn Jubayr this paper discusses how Neatline can be used for architectural analysis and considers what questions it allows us to investigate that would not be possible without it, as well as its limitations.
Florentia Illustrata : Digital Mapping and the Return of Renaissance Geographies
Niall Stephen Atkinson, University of Chicago
Current technologies that allow diverse kinds of historical data to be visualized spatially are rapidly changing how we access knowledge but such technologies also represent a fascinating return of the past. For art historians, Renaissance Italy was the site of crucial experiments in pre-modern techniques of visualization – linear perspective, double-entry bookkeeping, Ptolemaic geography, Galileo’s telescope. Usually studied in separate academic fields, these modes of visualization formed a common intellectual currency for Renaissance theorists, who regularly crossed emerging disciplinary boundaries. Consequently, they can also provide a historical lens through which we can critically assess how our own digital tools can distort, control, and limit—but also expand and enhance—the work that art historians do. In this paper, therefore, I explore the ways in which digitally mapping historical narratives can been seen as the future-past of Renaissance culture’s own rapidly transforming visual and spatial epistemologies.
Visualizing Venice : Mapping the Digital onto Art History
Kristin Lanzoni, The Wired at Duke University
The Wired ! Initiative at Duke University engages digital technologies in the study of Art History in order to develop new methodological approaches and ask new questions about context and process over time. This talk presents one of our collaborative initiatives, Visualizing Venice, a research database that supports mapping, 3-D modeling, and online representations of change in an urban environment. We focus on how social, religious and economic factors change the shape of a city. Both Wired ! and Visualizing Venice are committed to preparing students for scholarly use of digital tools ; we therefore integrate students at all levels into our projects as learners and partners. In this presentation I will also describe our focus on public-facing scholarship through exhibitions, websites and applications. These myriad directives probe art historical subjects in new and transformative ways, asking different questions about function, materials and context in the dynamic intersection of time and place.
Mapping Cultural Exchange : Strategies for Locating the Narrative in the Digital World
Michele Greet, George Mason University
Based on the experience of researching and writing a book on Latin American artists in Paris between the world wars, and creating an on-line database and interactive maps to accompany the manuscript, this paper will reflect on how traditional methodologies can be augmented by new techniques in the digital humanities. Traditionally, concrete archival studies deal with the specific and the local, whereas analyses of global interchange remain theoretical and speculative. Mapping provides visual evidence of the transnational circulation of people and ideas, thereby raising isolated narratives to the level of recurrent phenomena. While mapping and collecting large data sets is nothing new, creating digital maps and searchable databases allows for the manipulation of data in non-static ways, with the hope that future studies can incorporate, augment or interpret the data for different ends. My discussion will contemplate the advantages and challenges of weaving between narrative and digital formats.
Spatial Analysis and Vernacular Architecture : The Case of the Built Environment at Auschwitz
Paul B. Jaskot, DePaul University
The digital visualization of space is an important tool for analyzing the built environment at Auschwitz, a site rarely treated in our discipline but of overwhelming importance for modern political history. An understanding of the key spatial concept of scale and its importance to analyzing particular built and urban environments reveals just how such new art historical subjects can benefit from an engagement with the digital. Thinking of the spatial scale of the built environment at Auschwitz also deepens the complexity of our understanding of fundamental problems of long-standing interest to critical art history, above all the analysis of vernacular architecture. Art-historical questions that address large scale environments relate to those problems of cultural analysis that require a system-wide approach (a goal of the social history of art for some time). With the case of the vernacular architecture at Auschwitz, digital spatial tools help us further that goal.