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50 shades of blue

50 shades of blue

Physical Reality and Psychological Perception in Medieval Mural Paintings

Contributor: Floréal Daniel

Institute of Archaeomaterials Research

Research Centre for Applied Physics in Archaeology (CRP2A)

In this Discussion,Beynac Virginthe context will be given that led to the multidisciplinary project (psychology, archaeometry) ‘The Virgin’s Blue Coat’, which subscribes to an ‘art and vision’ theme at the heart of current applications in the cognitive sciences and aims to study perceptive illusions manifest in certain Medieval mural paintings, propose different perceptive mechanisms and highlight the influence of higher-level variables, whether cognitive, developmental or social.

Some examples of these coloured illusions in various Medieval mural paintings of the Aquitaine region have raised questions both in terms archaeology and psychology.

In terms of archaeology and art history, it examines the use of colour during the Medieval era. Moreover, experiments on perception first require the acquisition of images of paintings or coloured ranges, to reproduce them as faithfully as possible and consequently take into account related problems, for example the alteration of pigments and the influence of sources of light.

In terms of psychology, the ancient use, and in varied semantic contexts, notably, of the illusion of simultaneous contrast puts into question, from the point of view of the observer, the automatic character of the perceptive and cognitive processes of the categorisation of colour, and provides rich investigatory material.