What We Do
Duke’s Digital Art History & Visual Culture Research Lab is a dynamic research community of faculty, staff, and students. We engage and advance critical digital methods to promote new approaches to scholarship and pedagogy in the study and interpretation of the visual arts, architecture, cultural heritage, and urban environments.
The Digital Art History & Visual Culture Research Lab began as the Wired! Lab, and Wired! began as a question: what will happen if we apply digital technologies to historical inquiry? What kinds of affordances and limitations do state-of-the-art technologies offer art historians to represent and interrogate the three-dimensional forms of architecture and sculpture as they change over time? And, as time has gone by, and as the potential and affordances of digital technologies have expanded over the past ten years, what new initiatives and research questions could the faculty and students at Duke University undertake? These themes have dominated the Wired! enterprise ever since.
In Spring 2009, these questions were first explored in an investigational course, New Representational Technologies for Historical Materials, out of which the Wired! Lab was born. Basic to the initiative were certain core concepts: team teaching (combining the expertise of those in Digital Media with Art and Architectural History), group projects (that engaged faculty working alongside students), public presentations, and peer-to-peer teamwork. These operational principles entailed the reconceptualization of courses in order to make time for teaching the appropriate technologies and developing research projects, as well as the support of the administration for the creation of a designated space with appropriate hardware and software. Over the second half of its first ten years, Wired! has both built on its longstanding strengths and expanded its engagements with data, issues of scale, and public-facing scholarship.
Visualizing Venice is a multidisciplinary, multi-year, cross-cultural collaboration research project that supports mapping, 3D modeling, digital storytelling, and representing change over time in Venice. The collaboration began parallel to the Wired! Lab in 2009 with three research institutions: Duke University (Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Durham, NC); Università Iuav di Venezia, Italy (Dipartimento di Architettura Costruzione Conservazione); Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy (Dipartimento di Ingegneria Civile, Edile e Ambientale). Over the first several years, the scholars of these institutions established a rigorous methodology that mediates between traditional historical discourses and the many possibilities offered by visualization technologies.
The public facing projects have demonstrated a new approach to traditional art historical material and have prompted researchers and students to think about Art, Architectural, and Urban History in innovative ways. Its published scholarship—in the form of exhibitions along with traditional forms, such as books and articles—has translated archival study and onsite research into digital visualizations and has shown how it is possible to interpret, represent, and teach Architectural and Urban History in a dynamic and scientific way. It has also served as an umbrella research agenda and teaching curriculum for the Wired! Lab. Most recently, Visualizing Venice has expanded to become Visualizing Cities. Our intention is to apply the methodologies developed to include a broader range of international sites, including Paris, Athens, Durham, and, most recently, Krakow.
Why Get Involved?
Our research projects and courses train students in a wide variety of life-long transferable skills that enhance their performance and accomplishment in their own scholarship, professional training, and future careers. Our students can expect to gain skills in:
- Digital & Computational Literacies
- Creative & Critical Thinking
- Leadership, Collaboration, & Mentorship
- Research & Writing
- Project Management
- Presentation Design & Public Speaking
Workshops & Institutes
From its beginning, we have engaged with Digital Art History’s development not only through our own research and teaching but also through capacity building across Art History and adjacent disciplines. Within the Duke community we have offered workshops on topics like 3D modeling, interaction design in virtual environments, data visualization, digital mapping, and more—all with an emphasis on how digital tools and methods can be used to enhance the study, creation, and critique of the visual in an arts and humanities context.
The first Wired! workshop took place in Durham in 2010 and introduced an array of digital practices to local faculty, staff, and students. We repeated this workshop in 2011. From 2012-2016, we worked with advanced graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and early-career faculty in intensive, two-week summer institutes held at Venice International University and focused on specific historical case studies drawn from our shared research in connection with our Visualizing Venice collaborative.
Two of these workshops were supported by the Getty Foundation, with additional support from the Kress Foundation, the Delmas Foundation, and other organizations. Workshop themes included, The Waters of Venice (2011); The Ghetto of Venice (2013 and 2016); The City and the Lagoon (2014); and The Biennale and the City (2015). Two of the most recent introductory workshops, one focused on provisioning the city, the other on the Venetian ghetto, also coincided with major Visualizing Venice exhibitions at the Palazzo Ducale. Other workshops featured in-depth, expert-led discussions of historical, technical, and design elements associated with museum-based exhibitions located on-site in Venice and Padua.
Grants & Sponsorships
In addition to support across Duke’s campus, the Wired! Lab has received targeted sponsorship and funding for its broader teaching agenda, research projects, and summer workshops. The following lists highlight our gratitude for funding received over the past ten years from an impressive array of both external institutions and granting initiatives at Duke.
- Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
- Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)
- Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
- Fondazione di Venezia
- Furthermore Foundation
- The Getty Foundation
- The International Center of Medieval Art
- Samuel H. Kress Foundation
- National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
- NEH-Mellon Fellowship for Digital Publication
- National Humanities Center
- Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI)
- Renaissance Society of America
- U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies
- Bass Connections
- Duke Digital Initiative
- John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute
- Humanities Writ Large Initiative
- Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation
- Nasher Museum of Art
- Office of Information Technology
- Office of the Provost
- Provost Global Online Education Award
- Office of the Vice Provost for the Arts
- Office of the Vice Provost for Research
- Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
- Office of the Dean of Academic Affairs, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
- Office of the Dean of Humanities, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
- Schiff Family Humanities Fund
- Trinity College Research Enhancement Funds
- Trinity Technology Services
- Undergraduate Research Support Office, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences
- University Libraries
- Visual Studies Initiative
Lab Use Policy
The Wired! Lab’s use is prioritized for lab courses and their students, affiliated research projects, Digital Art History and Computational Media MA students, and workshops offered by lab faculty and staff (Smith Warehouse, Bay 11, A233) . We try to keep the lab as available as possible for affiliated students to work independently or in small groups. To this extent, we limit teaching in the lab to 2-3 project-based courses per semester and reserve Fridays for project meeting time. We typically do not host courses or events organized by other units, although occasionally we may co-sponsor an event if the activity is relevant to our mission of promoting digital pedagogy and undergraduate research in digital art history and visual culture. For further information, please contact hannah dot jacobs at duke dot edu.
We welcome inquiries from interested students, colleagues, and potential collaborators. You can reach us by emailing:
Kristin Huffman, Lecturing Fellow
kristin dot huffman at duke dot edu
Hannah Jacobs, Digital Humanities Specialist
hannah dot jacobs at duke dot edu
This site is the result of many hours of work. Contributors to the site’s user research, design, structure, and content editing include Andrea Brucculeri (MA in DAH/CM), Kristin Love Huffman, Hannah L. Jacobs, Christine Liu (MA in DAH/CM), and Jade Xiong (MFA EDA). Hannah L. Jacobs maintains it with support from lab faculty, staff, and students.