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Statues Speak Launches

April 20, 2018

UPDATE: The exhibition has launched! Look for these blue signs posted near bronze statues across East and West Campus. Remote viewers can also check out the Statues Speak site to take the tour online. 

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Statues are all around us, but we often walk past them without reflecting on who or what they represent. Statues can “speak” to us in many ways, but what if we could actually give them a voice? What would they want to tell us about themselves? Wired! Lab project Statues Speak, led by Duke alumna and assistant professor at Coastal Carolina University Elizabeth Baltes, explores these questions through historical research, digital curation, and public exhibition.

In April, Statues Speak will launch its first exhibitiona location-based mobile tour of the bronze portrait statues on Duke’s campus. During Blue Devil Days community members and visitors to Duke will be invited to hear these statues’ stories, as narrated by the statues themselves. Duke and Coastal students worked with Baltes to write these “autobiographies,” which are performed by members of the Duke and Durham communities, including former President Brodhead, Provost Kornbluth, and Frank Stasio of NPR. These audio recordings are accompanied by additional text and 3D interactive models of the statues.

Each participating statue will be marked by a sign that includes a QR code, which viewers can scan with their phones to hear the recordings and learn more about the history of each statue and its human inspiration.