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Visualizing Venice: The Biennale and the City

June 1, 2015

View the 2015 workshop’s public archive.


What is it about?

The field of historical and cultural visualization has grown substantially in recent years. For the past three years, Duke University, Università IUAV di Venezia, and Venice International University have collaborated on the Visualizing Venice Summer Workshops at VIU.
This year’s theme, “The Biennale and the City” reflects both the maturation of the international Visualizing Venice collaboration and the increasing accessibility of digital tools for representing change over time in urban environments. This collaboration enables us to bring together art and architectural history scholars with digital media specialists and engineers in order to create new opportunities to research and share information about the built past.
VIU is the ideal place to bring together an international set of graduate students studying digital art and art history by doing it onsite. Our unique capacity to offer courses that allow for both on site research and digital media production within a compressed time and intimate setting is unparalleled.


Course description

This course will teach a range of digital skills in digital mapping, 3D modeling from ground plans and photos, mobile application development, and time based media authorship to enable participants to engage historical questions with emerging digital tools.  As in the previous editions of the workshop, the technologies will be taught through the use of a theme.  The summer 2015 theme, “The Biennale and the City” allows for exploration of the history of the Venice Biennale from several perspectives and scales of reference: as a case study in architectural history in the Giardini and the Arsenale; as a set of exhibitions undertaken both on those sites and in more ephemeral sites around the city; as an aggregation of artistic forces hailing from around the world; and as a phenomenon with a profound impact upon the life and culture of the city of Venice itself.


The plan of the course will follow the pattern of previous years.
During the first week of the course students will learn techniques for digital production by drawing
upon existing research materials provided by colleagues in the Visualizing Venice team. Each day, students will learn about a different type of digital media production within the context of how that type of reconstruction is typically used in digital art and architectural history.
During the second week, the students will work collaboratively to create projects using the tools they have learned, with the goal of creating high-quality, public-facing research products suitable for a general audience, as well as identifying potential areas to explore in their own future research.



Students will see examples and will participate in tutorial sessions around the following topics:

Day 1
Introductions and Course Overview
Historical Overview of the Biennale
Computer Orientation
Day 2
Topics in Digital Mapping – Lecture and Examples
Digital Mapping with Google Earth and Web-Based Systems
Historical GIS: Techniques for Vector Data Analysis and Geo-rectification
Data Analysis and Visualization with Tableau
Day 3
Overview of Digital Project Archive Development
Archive-Development with Omeka; Representing Change Over Time with Neatline
Biennale Library visit
Day 4
3D Modeling with Google Sketchup
Photogrammetry Techniques for Object Capture
Day 5
Augmented Reality Application Design with Metaio Creator and Map2App
VirtualWorld Construction with OpenSim
Visit Biennale at Giardini and Arsenale
Day 6
Digital Video Production
Project Team Planning
Day 7
Collaborative project work
Day 8
Collaborative project work
Day 9
Collaborative project work
Day 10
Final project work
Presentations to the public


Learning outcomes

Learning outcomes include: familiarity and facility with digital media production tools for digital art and architectural history; awareness of the critical and practical challenges to the fields that digital production techniques pose; understanding of the philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of digital media authorship as an intervention into digital heritage and lived experience of the city.


Who can apply?

The workshop is designed for participants at the Ph.D – or Post doctoral – level in Interpretive Humanities (including Cultural Patrimony, History of Art, Architecture and Urbanism, History, Geography, Architecture, Archaeology, and other relevant disciplines).

Instruction will be in English of which participants must have an adequate working knowledge.

Maximum number of students: 16


Program structure

The course duration is 10 days. Students will attend classes in the Digital Lab 5 days per week and will participate in one field trip (during the week-end) at the Venice Biennale premises.
Participants should expect to be engaged full time in these ten days.



An official Duke University/Università IUAV/Venice International University joint Certificate will be issued at the end of the course.
Number of ECTS credits allocated: 3


Accepted applicants will receive a stipend to help cover travel and lodging thanks to the generosity of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and the Getty Foundation.


Duration and Period

10 days, June 1 – 12, 2015



San Servolo Island, Venice, Italy


Contacts and info:

Venice International University

Isola di San Servolo

30100 Venice


T +39 041 2719511

F +39 041 2719510



Applications due April 24, 2015

More information and to apply:

Download the brochure.


Visualizing Venice summer workshop is jointly promoted by:

Duke University

Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Duke University

Wired! Lab, Duke University

Università IUAV di Venezia

Venice International University

The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and the Getty Foundation provide vital support.