Baltic accent

2022 Vol. 13 №4

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Visual text of medieval Vladimir: the analysis of the dominant image of cathedral exteriors



The article attempts to determine the conceptual foundations for analyzing the influence of the artistic design of the temples of medieval Vladimir on the formation of the urban sacred space. The study aims to use the example of Vladimir during the reign of Andrei Bogolyubsky and Vsevolod III to substantiate the city-forming significance of exterior sculptural programs as a visual text that encodes the key parameters of the semantic organisation of urban environment. Hermeneutic presuppositions and initial cultural conditions for such an analysis are formulated. Based on the visual semiotics of Umberto Eco, it is shown that the external temple decoration of Vladimir acts both as an aesthetic object and as a semiotic construction. In line with the logical semantics of Gottlob Frege, the denotative (meaningful) and connotative (semantic) levels of coding and decoding of sacred visual texts of Vladimir cathedrals are defined. The basic references of the central image of the exterior plastics — the biblical David, as well as those narratives that are determined by these references are classified. The mechanism of localisation of universal religious narratives is shown through the distinction between text and subtext. Thus, the role of external temple decoration in constructing a sacred urban topic is determined. As a result, the possibility of interpreting the temple decoration of medieval Vladimir as a visual text is substantiated, which, firstly, expresses the implied meanings associated with specific images through code and context, and, secondly, translates these meanings into the environment, forming the cultural space of the city.


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