Forum eikones, Rheinsprung 11, 4051 Basel
eikones - Zentrum für die Theorie und Geschichte des Bildes, Universität Basel
Know your place: (Re)Constructing Spaces in Premodern Visual Cultures
Visual means construct spaces by defining their character and purpose, and dictating human behaviours within them. Medieval monuments such as choir screens or market crosses divided ecclesiastic interiors and juridical topographies, and denoted hierarchies. Wall paintings shaped domestic environments in ancient Roman houses, formed inter-medial dialogues by alluding to textile hangings in pre-modern Central Asian residences, and established idealised ancestor identities in ancient Egyptian tombs. Yet the study of these examples – as well as any of the chimaeric entities we here call “premodern spaces” or objects that were experienced within them – poses a challenge familiar and common to all disciplines that focus on material culture, namely the challenge of recontextualization.
Disciplines concerned with the study of premodern cultures face particularly harsh conditions in attempting to engage with these types of visual spaces, due to loss of evidence, misleading photo reproductions, and decontextualized museum displays. Yet the growing awareness of the significance of the spatial context in the visual cultures we study, and the introduction of novel approaches, tools and technologies for the reconstruction of premodern spaces, has opened new horizons for researchers seeking to take up the task of reconstructing the experience of past physical environments. In this workshop we will therefore collect a series of early career researchers from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, to bring together different and new ways of approaching premodern spaces, discerning the goals of their creation, discovering the tactics utilized in their construction, and sharing our own attempts to reconstructing them – in our minds through writing, in digital virtual and augmented realities, and in physical reconstructions. Through such an interdisciplinary discussion, we hope to bring forward new ways of combining the unique facets of our research in order to advance our collective approaches towards understanding the multifaceted experiences of premodern spaces.
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