Immersive Renaissance

The Immersive Renaissance project is led from the University of Exeter, in collaboration with Donal Cooper (University of Cambridge) and Nick Terpstra (University of Toronto), as well as the National Gallery (London) and the Fitzwiliam Museum (Cambridge). The two year project begins later this year and will involve a variety of activity in Digital Art History focused on Renaissance Florence. 

Our ambition with Immersive Renaissance is to deliver a step change in how art and architectural history as a discipline can engage with the changing contexts of artworks and urban environments through the use of spatial digital technologies. The central aim of this proposal is to bring together into one collaborative research space the three broadly-defined spatial technologies of GPS, GIS and 3D/AR, to develop an interoperable system enabling researchers to move seamlessly between urban, local and building scale analysis and interpretation of art, architecture and urban design history. The city of Florence provides the project’s canvas, and our distinctive approach opens new interpretative possibilities for the multitude of Florentine artworks dispersed in museum and gallery collections worldwide. 

The project enables us to deepen the collaboration and extend the work of University of Toronto’s DECIMA GIS platform to include newly commissioned 3D models similar to the San Pier Maggiore model created at the University of Cambridge, while enabling this research to be deployed on location, as in the University of Exeter’s Hidden Florence app. Though presented as three distinct activities, the approach we will adopt is to develop an integrated and interoperable system enabling researchers to move seamlessly between urban, local and building scale analysis and interpretation. For desktop and smartphone interactions, we will adopt the unifying design and user interface aesthetic of Stefano Bonsignori’s sixteenth-century map of the city – a representation that provides both a high degree of geo-spatial accuracy of the street layout, and a street-view perspectival rendering of monumental buildings and streetscapes. The map enables point-based mapping (GIS, as in DECIMA) and movement-based navigation (using GPS, as in HiddenFlorence), while also providing the ideal entry point for detailed analysis, presented at highlighted “hot spots” hyperlinked to 3D models.