Incoming Assistant Professor in Visual Computing at Durham University. External Scientist at the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia (IIT). Stuart's research focus is on Visual Reasoning to understand the layout of visual content from Iconography (e.g. Sketches) to 3D Scene understanding and their implications on methods of interaction. He is currently a co-PI on the RePAIR EU FET, DCitizens EU Twinning, and BoSS EU Lighthouse. He was a co-PI on the MEMEX RIA EU H2020 project coordinated at IIT for increasing social inclusion with Cultural Heritage. Stuart has previously held a Researcher & PostDoc positions at IIT as well as PostDocs at University College London (UCL), and the University of Surrey. Also, at the University of Surrey, Stuart was awarded his PhD on visual information retrieval for sketches. Stuart holds an honorary position at UCL and UCL Digital Humanities and is an international collaborator of ITI/LARSyS. He also regularly organises Vision for Art (VISART) workshop and Humanities-orientated tutorials and was Program Chair at British Machine Conference (BMVC) 2021.

Stuart James

Call for PhD

On September 1st 2023 I will start in Durham as Asistant Professor (Lecturer). If you are interested in doing a PhD on Spatial or Knowledge Reasoning, Object or Relationship Discovery, or Mapping, especially in relation to visual Arts and Humanities data please feel free to contact me.




Research interests

My research activities fit broadly into Spatial Reasoning — how we can reason about the layout of objects in space in both 2D and 3D to provide insight or retrieve relevant information. My research has a keen interest on varied data types including those from the Humanities such as Art and Cultural Heritage.

Exploring using Depth and Knowledge to answer questions specifically related to the layout of a 3D scene from a 2D perspective.

Visual Question & Answering

Detection, Representation and Reasoning on simplified representations or symbols such as Sketch, Line, Hatching, Motifs or icons.

Abstract & Iconography Reasoning

Identifying and retrieving relevant knowledge held within Knowledge Graphs to support Computer Vision tasks such as Visual Question and Answering or reasoning on location.

Knowledge Retrieval & Reasoning

Reconstructing the semantic relational structure of the scene using geometry and knowledge. Providing advanced interaction for questioning and reasoning.

Scene Graph

Principally on layout of content in 2D or 3D and how to make decisions that influence about a path or option linked with Visual Question and Answering

Planning & Reasoning

We have explored using sketches to search collections of videos using Visual Storyboarding to express the sequence of events in the target clip.

Sketch based Retrieval

We are using sequences to retrieve information providing a broader context than a one-off search. We have demonstrated through Free-Hand storyboarding and storey synthesis.

Visual Narratives and Stories

Within VR we explored the use free-hand sketching in an Immersive Environment (VR) with multiple modalities for the task of retrieval.

Interaction in Virtual Reality

Providing storytelling experiences overlaying information of surrounding Cultural Heritage and the stories of the particpants in the MEMEX Project.

Interaction in Augmented Reality

Cultural Heritage & Digital Humanities

Assistive Technologies


Research Group & Collaborators

Research Topic: Causality

Supervisor with Dr Jacopo Cavazza (IIT) and Dr Alessio Del Bue (IIT)

Davide Talon

PhD Student

Research Topic: Localising ourselves and objects for Social Good

Collaborator with Dr Alessio Del Bue (IIT)

Dr Matteo Taiana

PostDoc Collaborator

Research Topic: Optimising camera localisation in urban scenes

Collaborator with Dr Alessio Del Bue (IIT)

Dr Matteo Toso

PostDoc Collaborator

Research Topic: RePAIR Fresco 3D reconstruction and assembly

Collaborator with Dr Alessio Del Bue (IIT)

Dr Theodore Tsesmelis

PostDoc Collaborator

All associates in research line PAVIS at Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia


Looking to do a PhD?

Our group is always looking for good PhD candidates, so if you are interested in doing a PhD in Visual Reasoning please contact me to discuss the options. For more details review research areas and publications especially before making an inquiry or application.

Current Funding options:

Durham University Undergraduage Projects 2023-2024

- Theme 1: Self-Supervised Correlation detection for motif discovery in Art
- Theme 2: What does Open Street Map Image-based camera localisation rely on?
- Theme 3: Exploiting Knowledge Graph relations to detect objects in Artworks

Full details of themes at Durham Projects Page. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Latest Blog Post

18 Jul 2023 . research . New position at Durham University Comments

As of 1st September 2023, I will be taking up a position as Assistant Professor in Visual Computing at Durham University working in the VIViD group. This marks a major transition for me, as I move from being a contract-based Assistant Professor (or Researcher RTDa in the Italian system) to a permanent member of staff (i.e. Lecturer).


Latest Publication

2023 Inclusive Digital Storytelling: Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality to re-centre Stories from the Margins

As the concept of the Metaverse becomes a reality, storytelling tools sharpen their teeth to include Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality as prominent enabling features. While digitally savvy and privileged populations are well-positioned to use technology, marginalized groups risk being left behind and excluded from societal progress, deepening the digital divide. In this paper, we describe MEMEX, an interactive digital storytelling tool where Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality play enabling roles in support of the cultural integration of communities at risk of exclusion. The tool was developed in the context of 3 years EU-funded project, and in this paper, we focus on describing its final working prototype with its pilot study.

Accepted at International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling (ICIDS) in Kobe, Japan.

See full publication index


To find out more about our research you can find me at...

Pattern Analysis and Computer Vision (PAVIS)

Center for Human Technologies - Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia
Via Enrico Melen, 83, 16152 Genova GE