DivineComedy.digital by The Visual Agency

700 years after Dante Alighieri's death, this digital humanities project celebrates, with a slow surfing site, the influence the Comedy has had on the world’s artistic heritage, inspiring millions of people in Italy and around the world. Divinecomedy.digital shows the influence of Dante's narrative world through a collection of artworks depicting scenes from The Divine Comedy. This collection consists of digitized versions of artworks (+ 70 museums and +90 authors) related to Dante’s narrative world. The introduction shows clusters of artworks arranged by an AI algorithm (t-SNE map) according to their visual similarity, offering a panoramic overview of more than a thousand artworks. Users will be able to navigate through the collection and suggest missing artworks, too.

The project uses information design to clarify and untangle the complexity of the poem’s structure. The main menu uses information design to organize such a complex structure like DivineComedy’s. The menu is divided into four columns, each divided by: 3 cantiche, 30 settings (circles, terraces, spheres), 100 cantos, and 413 scenes. The height of each part is sized in proportion to the number of verses or artworks that constitutes it, it can also be normalized for further analysis. Each artwork of the collection has been classified and related to the scenes of the poem’s plot, ending up to 413 digital galleries users can interact with while listening to the audio verses of the poems.
Thanks to the main visualization researchers are now able to analyze that, contrary to what is commonly held by philologists and educators, the three Canticas are not perfectly symmetrical. They do have the same structure, but there are some differences that don’t allow them to perfectly overlap. In numerical terms, the differences between the verses are already known. However, now we can visually observe that the structure of each setting (in terms of Circles, Terraces, and Spheres) is also slightly different. It was an interesting discovery, made possible by the visualization and the filter that allows to normalize the structure and highlight these differences in a way that hadn’t been possible before.

Divinecomedy.digital aims to break users' habits: providing a – what we call – “slow surfing experience” for visitors. To reach this objective, the designers relied on a couple of solutions: the horizontal scrolling and the bottom-to-top structure of the main menu visualization (e.g.: the inferno is archetypally thought to develop downward, but the whole path of Dante’s redemption develops upwardly, from the Earth to the Paradise). Users can take their time exploring the content while listening to the Comedy’s verses that have been added to each scene in the form of an audio reading. A slow surfing experience.

The project’s objective is to amplify and facilitate access to this body of work, offering new and transversal ways to explore the Divine Comedy, while democratizing this huge cultural heritage; helping both domain experts and the general public to access the plot and the narrative world in a unique manner.

Promo video: https://vimeo.com/554271796
Recording: https://vimeo.com/675364421
Medium: https://medium.com/the-visual-agency/data-visualization-to-experience-the-legacy-of-dantes-comedy-and-its-influence-on-the-cultural-b072996280ef

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