This session aims to explore the concept of dissimilar image and its use in medieval art. The concept of the dissimilar image derives from Pseudo-Dionysius' theological opposite ideas of dissimilitudo and figura. Within medieval theology, dissimlitudo connotes the non-resemblance between phenomenal and divine things while figura signifies a mode of establishing meaningful relations among different things and events. In medieval art and iconography it was considered a mean by which the human mind approached the divine mystery in bodies beyond bodies, the eschatological destiny in stories beyond stories, the immaterial and supernatural in the visible and familiar aspect of things. During the Middle Ages, this exegetical practice had both pictorial and literary equivalents which were implicit in pictures and language employed. Dissimilar images occur when the normal or expected visual and cognitive aspects of things are consciously disfigured or undermined. The use of materials, pigments, ornament, and words in medieval art often has an indexical immediacy that opens up the image beyond the unified and distanced order of iconic resemblance. This disrupts the visual aspect of the art object and thus reveals a series of controlled relations between concepts normally kept separate, but meaningfully connected in the realm of exegetical thought. The dissimilar images then, far from the immediate reality that they represent, engage the viewer/reader in an anagogical process and function as a visual exegesis intended to elevating his/her mind from the material to the immaterial, from the visible toward the invisible mystery beyond.
Participants may explore the concept of dissimilar image in medieval objects in terms of materiality and ornament as well as ways in which they were perceived. Papers may address critically the concepts of dissimiltudo and figura from an interdisciplinary perspective and how they functioned in art, theology and philosophy.
Please submit abstracts of no more than 400 words and a Participant Information form to Riccardo Pizzinato by September 15, 2013. If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact me. Panelists will be notified before October 1, 2013. The participant information forms are available online at: http://www.wmich.edu/medieval/congress/submissions/#PIF.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Art History
Division of Humanities
University of Minnesota, Morris
600 East 4th St.
Morris, MN 56267
USA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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