Manipulating light in pre-modern times (Mendrisio, 3-4 Nov 11)

Mendrisio, Accademia di Architettura, November 3 - 04, 2011

Accademia di architettura - Università della Svizzera italiana
Istituto di storia e teoria dell'arte e architettura

CH-Mendrisio, Palazzo Canavée, aula C 3.89
November 3 – 4, 2011
International Exploratory Workshop (SNSF)

Manipulating light in pre-modern times. Architectural, artistic and philosophical aspects
Manipolando la luce in epoca premoderna. Aspetti architettonici, artistici e filosofici

Organized within the research project „From Ravenna to Vals. Light and Darkness in Architecture from the Middle Ages to the Present“ the international workshop will take place at the Accademia di Architettura Mendrisio, Università della Svizzera italiana. The conference will mark the opening of the new Istituto di storia e teoria dell’arte e dell’architettura.

Light renders architecture its functionality. Layers of meaning, from the sheer functional to the utmost transcendental ascribed to built structures have been, throughout time, underlined by the conscious use of light. The present workshop intends to contribute a developing topic in current academic scholarship: the historicization of the employment of light as a dynamic factor (daylight and artificial light) in sacred spaces in a “longue durée”-perspective until the shift due to the introduction of electrical illumination.
Religious architecture and visual art in Eastern and Western Mediterranean areas will be in focus in order to elaborate, by comparison, similarities and differences in the modes of regulating natural and artificial light as well as in the meanings attributed to its effects. By providing an international discussion forum with a spectrum covering a time span of one millenium (from Late Antiquity to Baroque) and reuniting art historical, archaeological, technical, theological and philosophical approaches, the meeting will not only facilitate an interdisciplinary and inspiring exchange of ideas and methods, but will also allow promising researchers to present and discuss their current work with established authorities of international reputation.

Schedule and abstracts


Thursday, November 3, 2011
9:00 – 9:30 Opening
Christoph Frank, Vice-director, Accademia di architettura, Mendrisio - USI
Daniela Mondini, Accademia di architettura, Mendrisio - USI

I. The economy of light in Early Christian and Byzantine churches
Chair: Daniela Mondini
Vladimir Ivanovici (Accademia di architettura, Mendrisio – USI): Luce renobatus: Speculations on the placing and importance of lights in Ravenna's Neonian Baptistery
10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break
Nadine Schibille (The University of Oxford): Light as an aesthetic constituent of the architecture of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople
Lioba Theis (Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Universität Wien): Natural and artificial illumination in Byzantine churches
13:00 – 14:30 Lunch break

14:30 – 19:00
II. Modulating darkness - Lighting strategies in Western Christian Architecture
Chair: Christoph Frank (Accademia di architettura, Mendrisio – USI)
Daniela Mondini (Accademia di architettura, Mendrisio – USI) Osservazioni sulla produttività del “buio romanico”
Nicolas Reveyron (Université Lumière Lyon2): Lumière naturelle et ambiance lumineuse dans l'architecture du Moyen Age
16 :30 – 17:00 Coffee break
Sergio Bettini (Università degli studi di Parma): Progetto e rappresentazione della luce nello spazio sacro rinascimentale: S. Maria del Fiore a Firenze e Santo Stefano Rotondo a Roma
Anna Bülau (Universität Bonn / Bibliotheca Hertziana - Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rom): Directed light / convergences in the planning of Baroque Architecture and architectural sceneries

Friday, November 4, 2011
III. Discourses about light, splendour and darkness in Art and Literature
Chair: Corrado Bologna, Università Roma Tre / Istituto studi italiani, Lugano - USI
Sophie Schweinfurth (Universität Basel – Eikones): Bloom and splendour: On the relation of line, light and colour in Byzantine iconophile thought, or: is there an iconophile theory of the aesthetic value of an icon?
Francesca Galli (Istituto studi italiani, Lugano – USI): Fisica e metafisica dell'illuminazione in Bartolomeo da Bologna (sec. XIII)
10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break
Mira Mocan (Università Roma Tre / Istituto studi italiani, Lugano – USI): Lucem demonstrat umbra. Il valore conoscitivo dell'"ombra" nella filosofia e letteratura medioevali
Bettina Preiswerk (Universität Zürich): Darkness in late medieval illumination
13:00 –14:30 Lunch break

14:30 – 19:00
IV. Light on transparent, opaque and reflecting surfaces
Chair: Brigitte Kurmann-Schwarz, Universität Zürich / Vitrocentre Romont
Barbara Schellewald (Universität Basel): Enlightment - Mosaic and Image Theory in Byzantium
Angela Schiffhauer (Universität Zürich / Vitrocentre Romont): Lighting Strategies? Combinations of coloured figures and Grisaille in Gothic Stained Glass
16:30 Coffee break
Frank Martin (Corpus Vitrearum Medii Aevi, Potsdam): Tra senso e funzione. Le vetrate nell' Italia medievale
Fabio Fernetti (restauratore, Roma): Le storie di S. Francesco nella Basilica Superiore di Assisi e la Cappella degli Scrovegni: analisi tecnica comparata dei due cicli pittorici di Giotto in relazione alla luce.

Organised by
Daniela Mondini
Vladimir Ivanovici

Accademia di architettura - USI
Largo Bernasconi 2
6850 Mendrisio – CH
Palazzo Canavée, aula C 3.89

Tel. +41 (0)58 6665871

CONF: Manipulating light in pre-modern times (Mendrisio, 3-4 Nov 11). In:, Oct 14, 2011 (accessed Oct 29, 2020), <>.

Contributor: Daniela Mondini

Contribution published: Oct 14, 2011

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