Firenze Scomparsa

Team Members Participating:

Nicola Amico
PRISMA srl and University of Florence, Italy

Chiara Capulli – @chiaracapulli
PhD candidate, History of Art
University of Cambridge, UK

Cristina Mosconi
PhD candidate, Art History and Visual Culture
University of Exeter, UK

Project Summary:

FS unites researchers at the universities of Cambridge, Exeter and Florence (including PRISMA, a spin-off SME) with established track-records of digital work on Florence (both 3D visualization and geo-enabled app design). Our medium-term aim is a powerful, location-responsive AR platform for the city’s historic centre that visualizes lost monuments and displaced artworks in situ or remotely, unlocking a wealth of specialist knowledge for public access and inviting new questions and directions for future research.

FS reflects ‘sustained, multidisciplinary collaboration’ stressed by the call. Partners brainstormed at Cambridge’s The Future of the Virtual Past workshop (Feb. 2017) on need to integrate and harmonize hitherto isolated Florentine pilots to create a larger-scale, more durable digital platform.

Exeter bring expertise in mapping technologies and GPS-enabled app design (‘Hidden Florence’, 2014, revised 2016). Cambridge and Florence have extensive experience in the 3D modelling of Florentine churches: Santa Chiara (2009), San Pier Maggiore (2015), Le Murate (2016). Niccolucci (Florence) co-authored the London Charter for the Computer-Based Visualization (2006).

Benefits of integrating 3D visualizations within geo-locative mobile apps are compelling. Exeter have received UK research funding to upgrade Hidden Florence by importing Cambridge’s existing San Pier Maggiore film. FS addresses the next step: optimising the design of 3D visualization for mobile use, taking advantage of newly available GPS-enabled AR software (like Zappar or ARKit for iPhone/iPad) to create models that can be experienced in situ within a geo-located smartphone app.

Florence is ideal for digital mapping and visualization. The Early Modern historical record is exceptionally rich (Terpstra & Rose, 2016) and the centro storico well-preserved and walkable, with a high density of artworks and monuments (whether extant, dispersed or documented) – a perfect setting for geo-located itineraries and interpretation. Concentrating on lost or radically altered monuments establishes manageable parameters and maximises interpretative impact and research potential of AR.

Challenges include:
– harmonizing disparate modelling and visualization practices
– creating models sufficiently light to render in real time on mobile devices
– ensuring interoperability across mobile apps and online platforms
– realizing London Charter guidelines on data transparency and uncertainty (for hot-spot hyperlinks to supporting commentary and databases for Le Murate see links below)
– incorporating time-slide features expressing different temporal phases in the past
– integrating user experience research from the outset to achieve optimal design

Initial focus on San Pier Maggiore and Le Murate draws on our earlier digital models (designed for film use rather than geo-locative apps) and informed by the Hidden Florence audio-guide interface, the city’s only geo-located interpretative mobile app.

External Link(s) and Resources:

HIDDEN FLORENCE (2014, University of Exeter)

– website and app download
– introductory film (5 minutes)

VIRTUAL SAN PIER MAGGIORE (2015, University of Cambridge)

– film on National Gallery Website, legacy page for Visions of Paradise: Botticini’s Palmieri Altarpiece, Sunley Room, National Gallery, 4 November 2015-28 March 2016.
– higher resolution version of San Pier Maggiore film on YouTube
– coverage on University of Cambridge website
– article in Apollo Magazine by Cooper and National Gallery curator Jennifer Sliwka
– coverage of the reconstruction in the Florentine edition of Corriere della Sera

LE MURATE – VASARI’S LAST SUPPER (2016, University of Florence-PRISMA)

– film on YouTube

Presentation Slides (PDF)