theme: Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) for Byzantine and Medieval Art
Nikolas Bakirtzis, Ropertos Georgiou
The Cyprus Institute
Science and Technology in Archaeology Research Center
This seminar presentation will focus on the development of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) to address problems and challenges in the documentation and study of Byzantine and Medieval Art in the Eastern Mediterranean.
This effort is possible within the activities of the LinkSCEEM2 project that have allowed The Cyprus Institute to develop an advanced imaging and visualization cluster to spearhead its contribution in the study and protection of Cultural Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean. Among the available technologies, RTI offers remarkable visual results in the digital photographic documentation of the surfaces of a wide range of materials. Pilot projects have helped to establish a network of interested partners who have been instrumental in defining the research scope of our activity which is developed along two paths: one focusing on the advancement of its technological capacity and the second engaging an array of fieldwork applications for research in archaeology, art history and architecture.
In this context and in order to directly address the rich visual cultural of Byzantine and Medieval Cyprus we have been developing our RTI capacity to document wall paintings, icons and small objects from these periods. In our preliminary projects, we have photographed wall paintings from UNESCO World Heritage monument of the monastery of St. John Lambadistis at Kalopanayiotis on Mt. Troodos, icons from the treasury of the Phaneromeni Church in Nicosia and coins from the collections of the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation and the Leventis Museum of Nicosia. These efforts have offered some valuable insights into the ways RTI can help answer some of the questions of archaeologists, art historians and conservators in the field.
An ongoing project concerns the application of RTI photography on early paintings of the Cretan artist DomenikosTheotokopoulos (1541-1614), known as El Greco. Recent art-historical research results have revised our understanding of the artistic development of El Greco; it appears that Domenikos was an established artist before his departure from Crete to Venice. Hence, his work virtually bridges Byzantine artistic tradition to that of Renaissance Italy and then Baroque Spain. RTI images deliver details that help experts to closely study not only the preservation history and condition of El Greco’s works but also the development of his technique and style.