Mediating Nature: A New Interpretation of the Garden in the House of Marcus Lucretius
Domestic visual programmes are an area of great contemporary interest among Roman art historians and archaeologists. The House of Marcus Lucretius at Pompeii (Regio IX, Ins 3, 5, 24) is an ideal space in which to make progress with this project because here we can study an interior display that included sculpture, wall paintings, and the surrounding architecture. The central garden of the domus was exceedingly well documented by the mid nineteenth-century excavators. In addition to the interior decorations, the domus is also notable because the platform garden was intentionally raised at a level above the rest of the domus, along with the adjoining rooms. The visual effect produced by the raised display, and the sculptures within, is strongly reminiscent of a tripartite framing typical for a panel of Roman wall paintings. Individual symbols, and ultimately the entire visual programme, appear to mimic a tableau vivante, or living wall painting. This paper will describe the symbolic components of the garden, synthesize existing scholarship on the space, and explore the visual impact of a the tableau vivante on an ancient Roman viewer. As part of the project, it was beneficial to create a digital presentation of the atrium, garden, and adjoining rooms. Once the 3D model is finalized, there are many additional methods that can be applied to the space. The final section of the paper will address avenues for future research, as well as issues encountered during the 3D modeling process.
Applications of Complex Systems to Classical Art & Archaeology
Project 1: Predicting Style: A Consideration of the 4 Styles of Roman Wall Painting
The goal of this project is to automatically reconstruct Roman atrium houses based on floor plan data, and enable the reinsertion of removed archaeological material. After scanning hundreds of floor plans, the computational part of the project is divided into two main parts. The first part is focused on how to detect the different rooms from the lines of the floor plans of Roman houses, which was solved with computer vision methods. The second part is that after detecting the rooms in a floor plan, we automatically generated the geometry for the first floor. Moving forward, we will expand this project to other types of domestic space.
Project 2: Predicting Style: A Consideration of the 4 Styles of Roman Wall Painting
The goal of this project is to digitally consider the four styles of Roman wall painting for individual images compared across a large dataset not only from Pompeii, but also Rome, Ostia, and Oplontis. We used watercolor reconstructions as the training data for this project, and then designed an algorithm that predicts the style of the paintings based on three key aspects proposed by Dr. Andrew Wallace-Hadrill: 1) Framework 2) Color 3) motif. Once we train the system, we will bring in external collaborators to test the results of the algorithm. Our hope is that this tool will be useful to expand the dialogue around the traditional four styles of wall painting.
The Digital Minturnae Reconstruction Project
This two week internship focused on developing a 3D restoration model of the entire area sacra of Minturnae, including the “Capitolium” and the three-winged portico that surrounded it. Both structures were decorated with architectural terracottas in antiquity, and it will be interesting to see how they relate/interact visually. The internship also allowed the creation of a digital record, which will serve as a useful tool in historical preservation and conservation. Sophie Crawford-Brown, my collaborator and the lead on this project, had already conducted most of the required archival and on-site research before we began.
VWHL Project: The Digital Villa Ludovisi Project
Laid out on the modern surface covering the remains of the Gardens of Sallust, the Villa Ludovisi once hosted one of the most significant collections of ancient Roman sculpture in the city of Rome. After the subdivision of the property in the 1880s and the economic crisis of 1893, the Boncompagni Ludovisi family sold a significant fraction of the ancient sculpture to the Italian state. Much of this sculpture is now on public display in the Museo Nazionale Romano - Palazzo Altemps. Meanwhile, part of the villa is still in the hands of the Boncompagni Ludovisi family: the Casino dell’Aurora, a late sixteenth-century building that today stands in the middle of a 3-acre garden.
The goal of the project is to digitize the Casino dell’Aurora, its the immediate surrounding gardens, and the sculpture in the Palazzo Altemps. The project will be the topic of a paper for College Art Association and foresees the creation of a related scientific, free website offering access to the 3D models. The art historical aspect of the project will center around the reception of the grotesque in the early modern period.