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published: March 2004
analytic scripts updated:  October 28, 2010

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Museums and the Web 2003 Papers

From Virtually Impossible to the Virtual: Building a Dream Exhibition

Kirk Alexander, University of California at Davis and Janet Temos, Princeton University, USA



A map, some engravings, the records of a vanished city . . . neglected artists, scattered works, and a compelling story to tell: these words describe two recent projects undertaken by the Educational Technologies Center (ETC) at Princeton University. In the first instance, a decade-long collaboration between Kirk Alexander and John Pinto, Professor of Architectural History, had resulted in an interactive exploration of Rome using Giambattista Nolli's 1748 map of the city as interface to a database of images and text. When Professor Pinto suggested using Nolli's map to contextualize Piranesi's etchings of Rome, the challenge was to combine the digitized works of two of the 18th century's greatest graphic artists to recreate a view of 18th century Rome. The most recent version, discussed here, extends the simple database queries to a Flash visualization which reveals the relationships between Piranesi's prints and the monuments they depict. In the second instance, Lionel Gossman, Professor Emeritus of Romance Languages and Literature, wished to explore the works of the German Nazarene artists. These painters enjoyed enormous popularity in the early 19th century, but had since fallen from favor, and their works had never enjoyed a comprehensive viewing. The possibility of displaying the work of these artists seemed beyond the practical scope of a museum exhibition. ETC designed an interface in which Professor Gossman's narration provided the intellectual context for an exploration of the life and works of this group of artists as a geographically disparate group of art works are examined. In both cases, the combined interaction of scholarship and technology has resulted in the virtually impossible becoming virtual reality.

Keywords: on-line exhibition, distance learning, interactive map, Nolli, Piranesi, Nazarene, copyright


The Educational Technologies Center (ETC) at Princeton serves as the portal for Princeton faculty members who wish to use technology in teaching. Kirk Alexander, former Director of ETC, developed the goals and mission of this center over a decade of collaboration with Princeton professors. Today, ETC, under the direction of Janet Temos, continues to serve the interests of the Princeton community. This paper describes two projects recently undertaken by ETC. One of them builds on collaboration a decade in the making. The other is one of the Center's newest projects. In each case, ETC was approached by a professor who had a clear concept -- but no practical way to carry it to fruition. This paper addresses the planning, conception, and execution of two virtual exhibitions in which the navigation and context enabled by technology make the virtual into something the real world cannot easily offer.

A ten-year collaboration between Kirk Alexander (then of ETC) and John Pinto, Professor of Architectural History (Princeton University), had resulted in an interactive exploration of Rome using Giovanni Battista Nolli's 1748 map of the city as the digital interface to an extensive database of images and texts. This project continues to serve as a basis for classroom teaching, and had already been transformed into a successful distance-learning course, "Walks in Rome." When Professor Pinto wanted to expand the Nolli map interface as the contextualizing element for Giovanni Battista Piranesi's prints of Rome, the challenge faced by ETC was in repurposing the map interface to show not only the scope and extent of the monuments represented in each print, but also to use the prints to provide added dimension to Nolli's ichnographic plan. To this end, a database of Roman monuments and related documents, the latest visualization tools, and the efforts of a team of scholars combined to produce a fluid interface. The project (although still under development) attempts to combine these disparate elements into a refreshing interactive view of 18th century Rome that combines plan, map and elevation, by combining the digitized works of two of the 18th-century's greatest graphic artists.

The second project represents the work of Lionel Gossman, Professor Emeritus of Romance Languages and Literature (Princeton University), who had developed a strong interest in the German Nazarene artists. These painters enjoyed popularity in the first half of the 19th century, but had since fallen out of favor with the fashions of the art market. The result is that their paintings are scattered in a number of major and minor art collections throughout Europe, but have never enjoyed a comprehensive viewing. The possibility of displaying the work of these artists seemed beyond the logistical scope of a museum exhibition. However, with the resources of an exceptional art history library and some high quality scanning equipment, ETC designed an interface that combined the best of both worlds: Professor Gossman's narration provided an intellectual context for a multimedia exploration of the life and works of this group of artists. Scanned images (and a concerted effort to secure copyright permissions) followed, and the resulting course simulates the path of the informed eye through a geographically disparate group of art works. What follows describes the origins and evolution of both of these projects.

I. The Nolli Map Interface


One of the most important considerations for urban historians is the physical context of buildings set within the complex urban fabric of a city like Rome. After twenty years of teaching an undergraduate course on Rome as a center of artistic production through the ages, our colleague John Pinto remained frustrated by the difficulty his students experienced in grasping the urban context of buildings such as the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain. In 1995, Professor Pinto came to Kirk Alexander with a proposal to employ technology to overcome this difficulty by using an 18th century plan of Rome by Giovanni Battista Nolli as the front end of an interactive database of texts and images relating to the urban history of Rome. Over the intervening years the database has grown, and its applications have multiplied to everything from supporting Freshman Seminars to an on-line course for Princeton Alumni, with an enrolment of over one thousand.

Map as a front end of database

Nolli constructed an Enlightenment version of a modern database. His index of 1320 monuments lists them not only in numerical order, but also according to categories, such as antiquities, churches, streets, etc. By using the map as the front end of the database, we enable students to come to understand the relationship of individual buildings and streets to the surrounding urban fabric. At any point, they can also take their own "virtual walks" through the city, clicking on monuments as they encounter them on the map. The direct links to the database provide historical and art context for each monument.

In order to provide a flexible tool for analysis and discussion, one needs to be able to see the city both in its entirety and in great detail. Some urban features, for example the Aurelian Walls and streets such as the Via del Corso and the Strada Felice, extend across much of the city. Also, to show the distribution of fountains, obelisks, or other features, one needs to see the entire plan. The first available level of resolution does just that, highlighting features for which there are records in the database. A second level of resolution provides more detail, while still maintaining the color overlays. Finally, there is a third level, without overlays, which respects the integrity of the original plan and reproduces every detail visible on the printed plates.

Just as the database allows viewers to contextualize individual buildings within the city, it can also be used to explore the spatial and architectural context of specific works of art. One example developed by a student in a Freshman Seminar is Bernini's Apollo and Daphne. The sculptural group is nested as a component of the Villa Borghese, which allows its Ovidian theme — the origin of laurel — to be seen in the context of the gardens surrounding the Casino for which it was carved. The database also allows its display within the Casino to be studied, both in its present state and as originally experienced.

One feature unique to the database and its Web interface is its ability to dynamically generate overlays for the Nolli plan that are related to searches of the data records. For example, if one comes upon a record such as the one for the Trevi Fountain, one can drill down in the database by clicking on this monument's type (fountain) to display a list of all other fountains recorded in the database. A link below that list will generate a new presentation of the Rome map with just the fountains highlighted and color coded. Unfortunately, in this typical Web based serial navigation process it is very awkward to see simultaneously the list of these fountains, their location within the city, and visual imagery depicting their form. As we will see, there are additional situations in which more readily available visual comparisons between imagery and the Nolli Plan are valuable.

Using the map to analyze works of art

From the beginning, we were concerned to complement Nolli's plan with printed views by his contemporaries Vasi and Piranesi. Stated more broadly, we wanted to extend the relationship between the map and features represented on it to include other works of art representing those features. To this end, we engaged two graduate students to digitize the sites represented in Piranesi's Vedute di Roma series. With this data it becomes possible to plot the approximate location of the viewpoints for each Veduta. If one could put Piranesi's prints in visual relation to Nolli's plan, one could gauge the degree to which Piranesi manipulated or distorted his compositions and suggest reasons for the decisions he made.

An excellent example is provided by the Piranesi's Veduta of the Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi. Piranesi's composition is contrived to set off the palace facade, which had been dramatically extended in 1746, following the designs of Nicola Salvi and Luigi Vanvitelli. As noted in Michelle Taylor's excellent entry on this print in the catalogue Piranesi, Rome Recorded, Piranesi pushed the Colonna palace — situated on the eastern side of the Piazza Santi Apostoli opposite the Palazzo Chigi-Odescalchi — further to the north in order to make it more visible. He also sharply foreshortened — compressed, really — the buildings to the north of the Palazzo Colonna: the Basilica of Santi Apostoli and the Palazzo Riario. See Figure 1, Palazzo Odescalchi.

Engraving of the Palazzo Odescalchi

Figure 1: Palazzo Odescalchi

Piranesi's shift is even more interesting if one takes the street system into account, as the Nolli plan allows one to do. A glance at the plan shows that the North portal of the Palazzo Colonna (the one shown in Piranesi's print) actually lines up with the Vicolo del Piombo (which is not even visible in the Veduta), instead of standing opposite the Portal of the Palazzo Odescalchi, as Piranesi presents it. See Figure 2, Nolli Near the Palazzo Odescalchi.

Nolli Map showing Palazzo Odescalchi

Figure 2: Nolli Near the Palazzo Odescalchi

In other prints by Piranesi and Vasi there are several monuments depicted in the same print. A search of the database for prints representing the Domus Aurea yields four results as shown in Figure 3: Prints for Domus Aurea, which show multiple monuments in each of the prints. What is needed to better comprehend the content and composition of these prints is an ability to see each of the prints in relation to the Nolli plan and to understand from where each print is viewed. Figure 4: Map Prints for Domus Aurea shows a section of the Nolli Plan with the Domus Aurea outlined and circles indicating the locations from which each of prints was drawn.

Prints for Domus Aurea

Figure 3: Prints for Domus Aurea

Maps from Domus Aurea

Figure 4: Map Prints for Domus Aurea

In Figure 5: Arch of Constantine, Colosseum and Fountain, we show a single print and all the monuments depicted in it. The names of these monuments are also listed on the data record for this print when it is displayed. What is needed now is a way to represent all of this data simultaneously to enable the viewer to work with it in a coherent way.

Archi of Constantine

Figure 5: Arch of Constantine, Colosseum and Fountain

Flash Visualization

A Flash module has now been built to combine a high resolution image of the entire Nolli plan with outlines of each of the monuments in the database as well as with each of the viewing locations for the Piranesi prints. In this interface (shown in Figure 6: Nolli Flash Interface) we see the same four prints and, in the example shown, all of the buildings represented in the print on the lower right (Campo Vaccino [Forum Romanum] viewed from the Capitoline.) Interactively the interface also does the following:

  • Rolling the mouse over a thumbnail reveals the title of the print and highlights the corresponding outline over the map.
  • Rolling the mouse over a circle on the map highlights the corresponding print thumbnail.
  • Any set of prints or monuments can be selected for interaction by choosing their titles from the search lists on the right of the interface.
  • Each image can be enlarged into its own window by clicking on the magnifying lens on the thumbnail.
  • Database records for each image can be displayed in their own window by clicking on the text icon over each thumbnail.

Flash Interface

Figure 6: Nolli Flash Interface

Concluding Comments

The recent emergence of technologies that permit the tight integration of visual interactive environments such as Macromedia Flash with on-line databases now makes it possible to construct rich visual data exploration and data mining applications for museum and academic audiences. The visualization tool presented here demonstrates this for a teaching database related to works of art in Rome and their geographic context. Other emergent technologies will permit the addition of audio and video experiences and multi-user interactions in the same on-line context. Future applications will enable personal visual annotation and distributed visual data entry (visual markup and annotation that can be captured and stored in an on-line database.) Developers should be encouraged to explore such applications!

II. Unwilling Moderns: The Nazarene Artists

Another, much later view of Rome comprises part of the content of the second project discussed in the paper, the on-line course, Unwilling Moderns: The Nazarene Artists. This course discusses a group of German-speaking artists who were active in Rome in the first half of the 19th century. The project represents the scholarship of Professor Emeritus Lionel Gossman, and documents the works and lives of the Nazarene artists within the intellectual context of early 19th-century Europe.


Unwilling Moderns: The Nazarene Artists is the ninth course of its kind produced by the Educational Technologies Center (ETC) at Princeton University. It is in a format ETC defines as @princetonCourseware™. Created using Macromedia Flash and released both in CD-ROM format and on the Web, @princetonCourseware uses various digital assets, including recorded narration, video, music, and image files, to produce the virtual equivalent of a scholarly lecture or undergraduate course. These courses are produced for the benefit of the wider University community, defined as all faculty and staff at Princeton, and all current and past students. The audience for these courses was narrowly defined to fall within a reasonable definition of academic “fair use.” To that end, in the interests of protecting rights of the University and of copyright holders who have allowed us to use their materials, @princetonCourseware is offered to registered users only, the courses are password-protected, and they are created using a technology that makes it difficult to gain access to any of the individual assets used in the courses. The courses are provided to our audience at no charge.

Project Initiation

Professor Gossman first approached ETC in the autumn of 2002 with the request that we assist him in making a scholarly Web page that showcased his past career, recent publications, and current research interests. Among his projects was a digital essay on the German Nazarene artists active in the early 19th century in Europe. Professor Gossman had worked with another technologist at Princeton to produce this essay in a PDF format that had images inserted within the text. The entire document was laid out in a way that approximated a published work. It was Professor Gossman’s intention to put the essay on his own Web page. He had earlier hoped to found an on-line journal as a venue for digital essays by younger scholars, and had produced his own essay on the Nazarenes as an example of such a work. However, Professor Gossman soon realized that he himself lacked the technical expertise to achieve this end, or to maintain such a page, and was content to post his own work to an accessible place on the World Wide Web.

The Educational Technologies Center routinely helps members of the Princeton faculty use technology in their teaching and scholarship, and Professor Gossman got both his Web page and his scholarly article posted on the World Wide Web at http://www.princeton.edu/~lgossman/.

Because of Professor Gossman’s enthusiasm for the new digital media and their application to scholarly publication, we invited him to work with us in presenting his article on the Nazarenes in a different format, one we thought would be particularly well suited to the essay he had written. As he was a well-liked professor, and had organized a very successful alumni course (taught both via the Web and at two weekend campus events), we knew his course offering would be welcomed by our target audience. ETC proposed to make his essay into a multimedia course, approximately an hour long, to be delivered on-line for broadband users, or via a CD-ROM mailed to the course participant.

Preparing Course Content

Since ETC had already created several similar courses, we knew that the first step was to edit the content of Professor Gossman’s written work in order to achieve approximately one hour of spoken narration and to break the text into segments that suited the capacity of individual Flash movies to deliver content effectively. The essay Unwilling Moderns: on the German Nazarene Artists was fifty-five pages long, contained roughly 20,000 words, and was rounded out by various appendices, citations, bibliographic references, and other elements of the scholarly apparatus. Clearly, editing the article to suit multimedia delivery was the most essential task.

While not wishing to undermine any of the scholarship contained in the original essay (it was always our intention to include a link to the original PDF version of Professor Gossman’s work in the multimedia course), the task that faced ETC’s scriptwriter was that of adapting the content of a comprehensive written work into a spoken lecture that would introduce all of the main points discussed in the essay, as well as provide compelling references to any image files that would eventually illustrate the final work. Ironically, we had already discovered that the process of dramatically cutting a written text to suit our format also involved the need for greatly increasing the number of images needed to sustain the narration and engage the viewer’s visual interest. As the topic of the course constantly referred to images that may or may not have been represented by illustrations in the original essay, the number of appropriate images - ones either directly referred to in the text or supportive of more general observations - also had to be included in the visual outline of the script. As it has never been ETC’s practice simply to videotape a given lecture - a form of delivery that we found never equaled the actual experience of the lecture itself - we preferred instead to record the lecture in a professional recording studio and illustrate the narration with still images, animations, and occasional video clips.

In the end, the written version of Unwilling Moderns was shortened to less than half its original length, while the number of illustrations and supporting images increased more than fourfold. The script was divided into eleven sections, each of which contained a “chapter” in the course, and images were chosen to support the points being discussed.

Interface Design


Since Unwilling Moderns was not the first lecture of its type that ETC had designed, we already had a good model in place for navigating a linear narrative of similar length. The interface was designed to give the viewer the maximum amount of control in looking at the lecture, while minimizing the user input. The course is designed entirely in Flash, with one “parent” movie that remains constantly onscreen and provides consistent navigational tools and a target for the loading and unloading of “child” movies that contain the actual lecture content.

The navigation tools in the parent movie (see Figure 7) provide the physical frame (the black portion of the screen) into which the smaller lecture sections are loaded and unloaded. The top portion of the navigational menu contains the course title and numeric buttons representing each chapter, allowing a user to go to any part of the lecture. Once initiated, each sub-section is programmed automatically to load the next section in the sequence so that the playback can be a continuous, seamless presentation of the lecture. If desired, the viewer can watch the entire course at one sitting, or pause, or skip playback to see the course in segments. In the lower portion of the navigation frame is a series of buttons that provide a help screen, an “image library” giving the copyright information for each image used in the course (with hotlinks to the respective museum and collection in nearly all cases), a reference section containing biographies of the artists mentioned in the course, and a link to an abbreviated bibliography of works cited in preparing the lecture and to the PDF version of the Nazarene article. Immediately below the black frame where the movie segments play are navigational controls that govern playback of the currently selected chapter in the lecture. These controls allow the user to go forward, backward, pause, and resume play within any section of the course, as well as provide information on the time remaining in the currently loaded chapter.

Unwilling Moderns Navigation Frame

Figure 7: Unwilling Moderns, main navigation frame

Production and Animation

Gathering content

The largest challenge in making this particular course was finding a sufficient quantity of suitable images. Because of the obscurity of this group of artists, there were few available monographs that described their individual careers and only a handful of publications dedicated to this artistic movement as a whole. The actual works were scattered throughout European collections and archives. Fortunately, most of Professor Gossman's own research had been conducted in Princeton's Marquand Library of Art and Archaeology, where the holdings are particularly rich, and his comments centered on images that had been published in books owned by the Library. Professor Gossman and some student researchers were enlisted to find illustrations in secondary sources to increase and enhance the number of digital images that had already been gathered for the original print article, and to record the locations of the original artworks. The script was recorded, and as the animations of the sections progressed, lacunae were filled in by suitable images. Almagest, the local teaching database administered by ETC, was used to store the images and catalogue their information, before the final task of seeking image permissions from copyright holders.

Making movies

Once the scriptwriting and image research was done, a team of three Flash animators and a graphic designer worked from a common template to design the project. The voice recordings for each of the eleven movie subsections defined the length of each chapter, ranging from just over two minutes to fifteen minutes. Care was given to establishing a consistent mood and style, presenting information about each work in an unobtrusive but comprehensive way, with small captions used for the more important images in the course, much in the way that museum labels provide essential information to the viewer. Other important didactic points of the lecture appear on screen when necessary to provide emphasis (See Figure 8).

Richard Muther on the Nazarenes

Figure 8, a screenshot from the final chapter of the course

A textured black background was chosen to make the images stand out as vividly as possible without looking too stark. Typefaces were chosen for clarity and design suitability.

Finishing details

Because the final movies had assumed something of the quality of a documentary film, Professor Gossman suggested that each section be introduced by a short phrase of music contemporary to the Nazarene artists. Schubert, in fact, had written musical settings of poems by the philosopher Friedrich Schlegel, a key figure in the Nazarenes' intellectual circle, and much to our surprise, (considering the current climate in the recording industry), Hyperion Records of London graciously allowed us the use of short clips from their recordings of these works, with no other compensation other than mention of their company's Web site. The titles and music clips that open each section have a dual purpose. Most obviously, they set a particular mood for each section of the course. More practically, by moving the first image in the individual movie section further down the Flash timeline, they allow the movies to load more smoothly.

Apart from these small design decisions, the last thing we did in creating the Unwilling Moderns course was to provide some adaptation of the traditional scholarly apparatus. This included bibliography and links, a small reference section that provided information about the Nazarene artists mentioned in the text, as well as the usual "Help" and "Credits" sections, and an Image Library.

The Image Library contains a set of thumbnail images of every significant image used in the course. Each chapter is presented by a page of thumbnail images in their order of appearance in the course. When a thumbnail is selected, the image enlarges in a new window, and a text panel provides basic information about the work of art, including artist name, creation date, physical dimensions (where provided), and a link to the museum or collection that houses the work of art. The Image Library allowed us to satisfy the criteria of many different copyright holders who gave us permission to reproduce their images: these criteria dictated the design of this feature.

Thumbnail page

Figure 9. Unwilling Moderns Image Library thumbnail page

Image Page from Image Library

Figure 10, "Unwilling Moderns" Image Library page with an image selected

Didactic goals

While we were making the course Unwilling Moderns, it became clear to us that we had something of a hybrid product. Unlike a Web page or publication made to accompany a museum exhibition, this interactive course was simultaneously an 'exhibit' as well as its supporting documentation. While the multimedia presentation was obviously unable to represent the physical reality of the artwork in terms of scale or texture, it had the advantage of being able to show multiple views of the same work, to enlarge and focus on details, and to animate the images on screen in a way that precisely matched Professor Gossman's description. In this way, the course assumes the additional role of tour guide, and provides the viewer with both narrative context and the advantage of being led by a 'learned eye' through the virtual exhibition as the animations zoom, pan, and highlight the part of the work that is being discussed. (See Figure 11.)

Detail of drawing

Figure 11, Unwilling Moderns, a drawing (left) and an enlarged detail of the same work, illustrating the allegorical significance of elements in the composition

The advantages to this dynamic way of illustrating the art works were made particularly clear in the penultimate chapter of the course, where the linear narrative was interrupted to provide the viewer the opportunity to explore independently three works by Johann Friedrich Overbeck and Franz Pforr, co-founders of the Nazarene movement, in greater detail. Professor Gossman narrated a careful formal and stylistic analysis of each of the three paintings, and his points were illustrated for the most part by manipulating the scale or visibility of the image under discussion to focus on fine details or call out certain pictorial elements by bringing them into greater prominence. It was this section of the course that, according to Professor Gossman, most particularly achieved what he had hoped to convey to his audience.

Copyrights and Permissions

The final task of obtaining copyrights and permissions for the images used in the Unwilling Moderns course was time consuming. Because most of the museums who owned the works were in Europe, the level of complexity and confusion about rights, ownership of images, and the unfamiliar multimedia format became exponentially more difficult as requests were made and answered in several different languages. It was sometimes quite difficult to explain precisely what we wanted to do with these images in technical terms that had any meaning to the copyright holder. In the end, we posted a draft version of a portion of the course to the Web so that the people who were considering our image requests could get some idea of the nature of the project. In some cases, the transaction was straightforward; digital images were exchanged for fees that were often reduced or waived. In others, especially when the archive in question had no experience of digital images, was unused to answering requests about usage, or had no clear policy on rights and reproductions, the agreements we reached were less clear. In the end, ETC made a comprehensive effort to get permissions for every image used in Unwilling Moderns, although in a few cases, it was impossible to determine to whom these rights belonged.

Lessons learned

Despite the fact that Professor Gossman was, and remains, delighted with the Unwilling Moderns course, he and the team that worked on this project found it more difficult than most to bring to a conclusion. ETC's past courses were less tied to a precise set of images than was Unwilling Moderns. Whereas in other courses, any among a number of similar images might have been chosen - for instance, given the need to illustrate a reference to warfare in the 18th century, one might have chosen among several options - in the case of Unwilling Moderns there were many fewer instances of non-specific illustrations. In the process of building past courses, ETC had established relationships with several museums that allow us use of images for nominal fees. Most of these institutions had undertaken their own digital initiatives; their understanding of this process made them agreeable to permit low resolution images to be used by ETC for educational multimedia courses. In the case of Unwilling Moderns, only small parts of the course could be illustrated by using 'general' images. In fact, any refusal by a museum to give us permission to use an image evoked in the script would have significantly altered the course content and made production difficult at a point when much effort and time had already been expended on the project. Fortunately, this did not happen, but gaining permissions seemed by the end to be a far greater undertaking than any of us had imagined, and raised some doubt about the viability of creating such image-specific and image-intensive courses for academic use.

In seeking permissions to reproduce images, we stayed well within the terms of fair use by establishing the following criteria:

  • Our courses are only freely available to users in the princeton.edu domain
  • Any user beyond the princeton.edu domain would have to be part of a narrowly defined group belonging to the university community
  • All users in this "community" would be required to register for the course, and be given a secure password to access course material
  • All registered users would agree not to share the course with members outside the defined user group
  • There is no charge for any @princetonCourseware

Unfortunately, this same set of criteria necessarily makes the audience for the course a very small one.

There is an equally compelling set of technical criteria that operate in favor of the interests of copyright holders in the way that @princetonCourseware is produced. These were more difficult to explain:

  • While not impossible, it is difficult to extract individual files from within a published Flash movie (.swf) other than by taking a screen shot. Decompiling a .swf file is beyond the capability of most average users
  • To facilitate the on-line delivery of our courses, most of the assets contained in them are highly compressed. The sound files are MP3 audio files; the images are .jpgs saved using Photoshop's "Save for Web" option. The size of the "chapter" movies in Unwilling Moderns is 1024 pixels by 384 pixels
  • Given the above considerations, even if the movie were to be successfully decompiled, the image files contained in the movies are too small to be commercially useful, and could not be seen to deprive any copyright holders of the advantage they have in owning the rights to a high quality image

Lack of clarity on these issues of use and intent has occasionally led us into almost adversarial relationships with copyright holders, particularly when a multimedia method of delivery is unfamiliar. As we at ETC believe we add value to the assets we use by including comment, providing context, and generating interest in the originals, it is never our intention to deprive the copyright holders of the fair market value of their own assets. We can only hope that better understanding will eventually lead to better cooperation.

Concluding remarks

Unwilling Moderns represents an effective use of technology to represent a multimedia version of a work of scholarship. The resulting course combines some aspects of a museum exhibition, of an art history publication, and of a guided virtual tour. The course content is aimed at a general audience, while simultaneously preserving much of the scholarly content of the original work. The added value of the animations and visual effects makes it possible to look at works of art discussed in the course in ways that could not be achieved by more traditional forms of publication. Unfortunately, since copyright permissions were negotiated within the context of fair use to keep costs reasonable, it is necessary to restrict the audience of the course to a limited, campus-based community.


Both of the projects discussed in this paper pursue the notion of "exhibition" in unconventional ways. Each achieves a presentation that is not possible either physically or in print and each gains added value from its on-line, interactive format. Unwilling Moderns brings together images from around the world to shape a narrative account of the artistic movement that fashioned them; the multimedia presentation simultaneously enables the student to browse the "catalog" information related to each image, and to learn more about the artists mentioned in the course. The Nolli interface enables the collocation of 18th-century images with a contemporary wall-scale map in a way that permits the simultaneous exploration of the virtual and the real, of fact and fantasy, all anchored to geographic and object-based cataloguing. The result in both cases is an exhibition in the best sense of the word — a contribution of context and meaning to a particular grouping of individual works completely enabled via a "virtual" delivery.


A complete list of ETC @princetonCourseware, with course descriptions, can be found at the following URL. Viewing course content is limited to the Princeton domain: http://tigernet.princeton.edu/Education/

Three courses on this list that are similar in construction and intent to Unwilling Moderns are open to the public. A high-speed connection and the free Macromedia Flash player are required to view them:

Game Theory (2003) features John Nash, Professor Harold Kuhn and other members of the Princeton faculty. http://www.princeton.edu/almagest/courseware/public/games/

A Collegelands Catechism explores a poem published in Professor Paul Muldoon's Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry anthology, Moy Sand and Gravel (2002). http://www.princeton.edu/almagest/courseware/public/catechism/

Princeton Epigraphy is a campus tour of classical inscriptions led and translated by Professor Christian Wildberg. http://www.princeton.edu/almagest/courseware/public/epig/


Background text and example descriptions for the Nolli map draw directly on work prepared for a presentation at the conference "Giambattista Nolli, Imago Urbis and Rome" held in Rome 31 May - 3 June 2003 by Kirk Alexander and John A. Pinto. http://www.studiumurbis.org/menu/conferences.html

Thanks to the many museums, libraries, archives and other collections that allowed us to use their images in making Unwilling Moderns. Particular thanks go to Hyperion Records, London, for allowing us to use portions of the Hyperion Edition of the Complete Songs of Schubert.

We would also like to thank the staff of the on-line journal, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/ which published a version of Lionel Gossman's article on the Nazarene painters in Volume 2, issue 3 (Autumn, 2003), and worked with ETC in obtaining some permissions to use images. The article can be seen at: http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/autumn_03/articles/goss.html