Epiconography, developed by Dr. Stefano Riccioni, is a system of analyzing Medieval art which combines the meanings of the words epigraphy (to write on) and iconography (to make a figurative representation). It is an approach which makes a distinction between materials and techniques, but not between images and words, because text in art should be considered a part of the image, rather than just an addition to it. When the viewer is first presented with words in a piece of art, they are immediately interpreted as an image, and only later as text, so it makes sense to assume that certain choices were made about the combination of text and images with the understanding that they would be seen as a whole. Things to note which will aid in understanding a piece of art within the context of epiconography are the techniques and materials employed, the placement of the piece relative to light sources, entrances, and other art, the style and design of the text and images involved, who the intended audience was, and how it may have been perceived in its own time.
Adapted from notes taken during a presentation by Dr. Riccioni himself at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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