Visualizing Statues in Late Antiquity

This fascinating and innovative project seeks to give users the experience of how statues (and their inscribed bases) constituted a collective memory among those who participated in the ritual space of the Late-Antique Roman Forum.  The PI of “Visualizing Statues” is Diana Favro of UCLA, with Chris Johanson as CI and Gregor Kalas as Fellow; it was developed in UCLA’s Experiental Technologies Center, with the support of the NEH.  The site is a model for a smooth interface between 3-d visualization of ancient monuments in their spatial context; 2-d plans of urban spaces; material culture, including statues bases with inscriptions; a timeline, between 284 and 526 CE; and even literary sources, namely Claudian’s portrait of the emperor Honorius’s Consular Procession in 404 CE, a compelling description of Late-Antique imperial ceremony used as a textual basis for framing the experience of the online audience.  The site is best navigated in HyperCities (itself developed jointly by UCLA and USC), which requires a Google-Earth plug-in: one can then view various 3-d reconstructions of the Late-Antique Roman cityscape (such as the Forum), including the associated statuary, which is the theoretical focus of the project. This display changes as one navigates through the footnoted narrative accompaniments in the site’s various sections: the “Introduction; “Ritual Experience,” which more or less follows the stages of Honorius’s procession as described by Claudian; “Spatial Context,” which explores the cultural significance of statuary in urban space; “Mapping Statues,” which features interactive plans displaying the location (both certain and uncertain) of statues, each with a generous description; and finally, a searchable “Inscription Database,” from the statue databases.  An extraordinary site in all respects!

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