Norman Badler and Renata Holod Receive PISF Award

August 8, 2009

PHILADELPHIA –- Norman Badler and Renata Holod have received one of the awards from the Penn Provost’s Interdisciplinary Seminar Fund (PISF).  This award supports the continuation of successful collaborations between Art History (ARTH) and Computer and Information Science (CIS) under the interdisciplinary seminar title “Virtual Heritage.”  This seminar exemplifies the interaction and collaboration between those who study, document, reconstruct and preserve the past, and those who bring technological expertise and skills to modeling, simulating and animating structures, artifacts and people.
Previous collaborative projects in Virtual Heritage include:

  • Meng Yang’s 3D virtual reconstruction of the Great Mosque at Córdoba based on drawings, plans and information on lighting supplied by Renata Holod.  Yang created textures and colors appropriate to the surfaces, and animated a “fly-through” of the space.
  • The Godin Tepe, Iran, site reconstruction including both architecture and artifacts.  CIS Digital Media Design (DMD) students Pat Benjamin, Gina Chuang, Mike Lang, Josh Paller Jean Tsong, and Meng Yang collaborated on this project and supporting website.
  • A course CIS 106/ANTH 258 jointly taught in Fall 2004 by Clark Erickson in Anthropology and Norm Badler in Computer and Information Science which focused on Tiwanaku, Bolivia.
  • DMD students also participated in the production of animated graphics for Alexei Vranich’s Bolivia reed boat project that appeared on the History Channel.
  • Professor Alan Chalmers – a computer scientist at the University of Warwick in the UK -- was invited to give an Art History colloquium in April 2009.  As a direct outcome of his visit, a research collaboration began between Alan Chalmers, Renata Holod, Norm Badler and several of his students.  The result was a paper to be presented to the major conference in the field (VAST in Fall 2009), showing accurate reconstruction of the light from multiple Byzantine glass lamps in the Mosque of Córdoba (  The visual appearance of ancient sites is vastly different when viewed under the proper illumination; new computer graphics methods can be used to do this effectively.  Through this project medium, a Ph.D. student in computer science (Joe Kider) and two undergraduate Digital Media Design seniors (Rebecca Fletcher and Nancy Yu) collaborated on a problem of both art historical interest and importance in Byzantine reconstructions.

The PISF award provides one-year support to continue these directions through an Interdisciplinary Seminar in Virtual Heritage.  We plan to meet approximately once a month during the Fall and Spring terms with a speaker or discussion topic.  Interested faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, Post-Docs, staff and others are welcome to attend.  For more information contact Norm Badler at