Mapping Gothic France

Mapping Gothic France

Visual Media Center & Columbia University Libraries

Whereas pictures can be represented in two-dimensional digital images conveyed on the computer screen as thumb-nail or full-screen images, Gothic cathedrals demand a different mode of representation. Mapping Gothic France will establish a map of northern France, locating the major cathedrals and monasteries constructed between the mid-twelfth and mid-thirteenth centuries. The user will be able to move the cursor over the map and each building will identify itself with a short text and images that present themselves in a way that corresponds to the dynamic spatial experience of the visitor. The spatial character of the edifice will be conveyed in spherical panoramic virtual reality nodes and three-dimensional models. All plans and sections will be rendered on the same scale, so that the plan of the Amiens choir, for example, can be superimposed upon the plan of the Beauvais choir. Just as in our previous web-based mapping project (www.learn.columbia.edu/bourb) the user will be given tools to facilitate a comparative study of the shapes and dimensions of buildings.

Our task is not just to develop a more appropriate way of representing the spaciousness of individual monuments, but to provide the user with new ways to understand the relationship of hundreds of buildings conventionally described as “Gothic.” This phenomenon is understood in terms of sameness and difference found in the forms of multiple buildings within a defined period of time and space that corresponds to the emergence of France as a nation state. The telling of the story of France tends to project the illusion of manifest destiny with the apparently inevitable development of “Gothic” seen as the visual corollary. Mapping Gothic France will employ animated maps to correlate the architectural and geo-political dimensions of the emergence of the nation state.

The interactive database will become a vital educational and research tool for students and scholars, as well as non-professional lovers of Gothic architecture.

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Les notices sur les églises Saint-Quiriace de Provins, Notre-Dame de Moret-sur-Loing, Saint-Maclou de Pontoise, Notre-Dame de Noyon, Marie-Madeleine de Vézelay ont été réalisées par Arnaud TIMBERT (IRHiS)


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