Photography Workshop: A Report

(this and the following photos are by Maria Aimé Villano)

In the last week of January, we spent two days exploring the different aspects of digital photography and its role during the epigraphic research. The role of photography will be crucial for the Graph-East project, because we will not be accompanied by a professional photographer during our personal missions, and also because our field is located rather far from France, so we will not be able to return there often. Thus, we will need to make proper photos in order to analyze them later.

This brief course was conceptualized and organized by Clément Dussart, our fellow team member, and divided in two parts. On the first day we dedicated ourselves to photography, and on the next day we were dealing with more intricate subjects, such as photogrammetry and ultraviolet/infrared photography. Each day was also split in two parts, we began it with theory and finished with practice. As it was an open event, there were not only Graph-East team members in the audience, but also our colleagues from the CESCM, the University of Poitiers, and other universities. Among them were participants of another ERC project, HornEast, based in Aix-Marseille University. The number of attendees varied during the day, however, the peak number was fifteen, although including the lecturers.

We began with basics. As everything on the first day, they were taught to us by Lisa-Oriane Crosland and Eva Avril. During the first half of the first day, we were told about the camera construction, its working principle, learned about exposure, aperture and ISO – the three pillars of photography, and also about focal length, different types of objectives, white balance and different camera modes.

Then, it was time to test all the newly acquired – or refreshed, as all of us had different backgrounds and experience – knowledge on practice. Some of us brought their own cameras and tripods, some were provided with them by the lecturers, and some, including the humble author of these lines, had a possibility to test a new camera, purchased specially for the Graph-East needs. The practice was twofold: we started in the classroom with some separate stones, inscriptions, and seals, and then, after lunch, under the shy winter sun we moved to the Baptistery of St. John. There, inside the walls adorned by inscribed frescoes and among the carved sarcophagi, we were placed in field conditions. Despite the chilling cold, whose hand became even more firm as the evening descended, we managed rather well, even those who took cameras for the first time. At the end of the day, Estelle Ingrand-Varenne, our most beloved leader, took our guests from other cities to an excursion to the Church of St. Radegund, of which excursion, unfortunately, I cannot tell anything.

Next day, straight after having learned the most simple basics, we delved into depths of much more complicated methods. Divided in two groups, we learned first about photogrammetry (thanks to Daniel Morleghem, an independent archaeologist from Poitiers), and then (with help of Jean-Baptiste Javel, PhD student in Bordeaux) about some additional ways to take photos, such as macro- and microphotography, as well as ultraviolet and infrared photography, and new research possibilities opened by them. Or vice versa. Given our diverse backgrounds, those subjects were not something very new for some of us, however, those were not necessarily the same people who had not learned anything new on the previous day. To those, who, as myself, has not heard about the aforementioned methods (except maybe for macro) before, let it be known that photogrammetry consists of making a 3D image of an object, which was previously photographed from all possible angles, with help of a special software. In terms of epigraphy, it makes inscriptions more readable. However, there is also a disadvantage: the 3D models occupy quite a lot of space on the disk. As for the IR/UV photography, it requires a special filter, or a partly disassembled camera (infrared blocker removed), and literally allows to see the invisible, when it comes to the painted inscriptions or some very slight incisions. The latter can also be discovered and depicted using macro- and microphotography. So it is.

As on the previous day, we went on to practice after lunch in the same baptistery. As there was only one IR-conditioned camera, we were mostly occupied with photogrammetry, taking photos of different sarcophagi for a model, which then would be made according to them. However, those interested had the possibility to lend Jean-Baptiste’s camera for a few moments.

In general, it was an interesting experience, which also offered a rare possibility to gather all the team together. It was not definitely the last workshop organized by Graph-East team, as some other ideas were voiced during the group discussion in the evening of the last day, such as the initiation into Adobe Photoshop or InDesign, or a workshop on edition of the inscriptions, or even a workshop on heraldry, as many slabs do have different coats of arms on them. So, please stay tuned for further announcements and such reports.

Webinar “Epigraphic Transmissions”

The SEMPER seminar on writing outside the manuscript world resumes this year as a transversal webinar, bringing together all the epigraphy research projects linked to the CESCM (the CIFM/Titulus, CARMECA, IGAMA, the ERC GRAPH-EAST), in partnership with the CRFJ Jerusalem. Nine sessions will take place between October 2021 and June 2022, one per month, around the theme “Epigraphic Transmissions”.

“Transmitting a message to the widest possible audience” is one of the functions of inscription. But what does this transmission consist of? What is it about and what does it involve? To speak of “epigraphic transmissions” makes it possible to question the idea not of permanence, which erases the relationship to time, but of continuity, which integrates the upheavals of history, the variations of interpretations, the transformations of the support. The continuous use of writing forms such as the capital (understood in the sense of a large letter placed in a bilinear system), the recurrence of certain funerary formulas that cross the Middle Ages and are still used in our modern languages, or the intentional material replacement of a stone inscribed in a wall, are three of the most obvious examples of the duration conveyed by the inscription. This continuity takes place through the passing on (trans-); it is inscribed in a temporal and/or spatial chain. It implies a movement, as shown by the cartography of epigraphic formulas in Europe or the transfers between East and West. It also puts forward the intermediaries who participate in this mesh, even this spiral.

Beyond the content and form of a message, the epigraphic text is also a trajectory, an itinerary in time, that of the history of its transmission on other media than its own support. Since the Middle Ages, inscriptions have been copied into manuscripts; in the 16th-17th centuries, printers redoubled their originality in order to faithfully reproduce and display these monumental texts; drawings, stamping, the first photographs in the mid-19th century, up to photogrammetry today, are all part of this transmission work. The work of publishing – because the publisher is a “passer” – must also be questioned.

This webinar will therefore be an opportunity, through this transversal theme, to collectively question the object of “inscription” as much as the history of the discipline of epigraphy itself, the staging of the work of history as a methodology in action, to borrow an expression from Étienne Anheim (Le travail de l’histoire).

The 9 sessions from October 2021 to June 2022 will take place with the same link Zoom below :

(ID de réunion : 898 4254 1808 ; Code secret : 013157)

Program until the end of 2021

  • Thursday, October 14, 10am-12pm: Elisabetta Scirocco (Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rome)« Dinamiche di ‘trasmissione epigrafica’ nella badia benedettina di Cava de’ Tirreni (Salerno): tradizione e creazione di una memoria monumentale ». Moderator: Maria Villano.
  • Thursday, November 25, 2-4pmJean-Baptiste Javel (IRAMAT CRP2A, Université Bordeaux Montaigne) et Thierry Grégor (CESCM, Université de Poitiers), « La basilique Saint-Eutrope de Saintes : Étude technique de deux inscriptions inédites »
  • Thursday, December 16, 2-4pm: Michele Bacci (Université de Friburg, Suisse), « Les graffitis de la Nativité de Bethléem, l’édition du manuscrit de Emérico Vicente Juhász, Pinturas y grafitos. Basílica de la Natividad en Belén (Milan: Edizioni Terra Santa, 2021) ». Moderators: Clément Dussart and Estelle Ingrand-Varenne.
  • Thursday, January 13, 10am-12pm: Antonino Tranchina (Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rome), « Ways of Indexicality. Graffiti and the Staging of the Sacred across the Norman South »
  • Thursday, February 17, 10am-12pm: Cécile Treffort (CESCM, Université de Poitiers), « La transmission manuscrite de la poésie épigraphique carolingienne »
  • Thursday, March 17, 10am-12pm: Vincent Debiais (EHESS, Paris), « Transmettre l’inscription par l’inscription : copier, refaire, augmenter les textes funéraires (Espagne, Empire, XIIIe-XVIe siècle) »
  • Thursday, April 7, 10am-12pm: Morgane Uberti (Universidad Complutense, Madrid), « Transmettre le temps : la date inscrite, entre temporalité et figure de l’histoire (Antiquité tardive, Moyen Âge) »
  • Thursday, May 19, 10am-12pm: Susanne Thürigen (GERMANISCHES NATIONALMUSEUM- Leibniz-Forschungsmuseum für Kulturgeschichte)
    « Objects that talk. Inscriptions on early modern table clocks »
    Moderator: Rachel Carslile (PhD candidate, Department of Art History, Florida State University)
  • Thursday, June 9, 10am-12pm: Rafał Quirini-Popławski (Jagiellonian University in Kraków), « Mission impossible between an inscription, a coat of arms and an ornament. The issue of assigning a “cultural identity” to the stone slabs in the late medieval Crimea »
    Moderator: Sercan Saglam (Post-doc member of Graph-East)

For more information: 

La série documentaire

Parce que le travail de l’historien et de l’historienne est aussi de transmettre à un large public le fruit de ses découvertes, l’équipe GRAPH-EAST a été suivie sur le terrain par deux vidéastes, Stéphane Kowalczyk et Philippe Kern, lors de la mission en Chypre en juillet 2021. La série documentaire peut être visionnée sur la chaîne YouTube du projet, n’hésitez pas à vous abonner :

Emmener le spectateur sur le terrain, c’est vulgariser l’histoire comme recherche, au moment où les hypothèses se construisent, où les expertises se confrontent, où les doutes surgissent également. C’est donc moins un résultat qui est proposé dans cette série documentaire qu’un processus : la recherche épigraphique à l’œuvre.

Au fil des épisodes et des dix jours de mission, l’équipe se construit, grâce aux compétences diverses et complémentaires de chacun, la méthodologie fait ses preuves, chaque inscription – sur pierre essentiellement – est étudiée sous toutes ses coutures, mesurée, photographiée, dessinée, transcrite… De Nicosie à Larnaca, en passant par Limassol, Kiti, Kivisili et Pyrga, les contacts avec les chercheurs locaux se nouent, les échanges avec les gardiens des clés et le clergé sur place enrichissent les perspectives. Enfin, les acteurs se livrent aussi sur leur métier, leur passion, leur rapport au travail et à la recherche, qu’on soit chercheur, doctorant, postdoc ou photographe. Bref, une petite tranche de vie du projet GRAPH-EAST qui n’en est qu’à ses débuts.

Le spectateur est lui-même invité à devenir acteur, en prenant conscience de ce patrimoine, souvent fragile comme les graffitis dans les châteaux et les églises, conservé dans de médiocres conditions par l’exposition aux intempéries, parfois en péril réel. En changeant le regard et en faisant parler les pierres inscrites, il s’agit de sensibiliser pour mieux protéger.   

Les acteurs par ordre alphabétique : Vladimir Agrigoroaei, Eva Avril, Clément Dussart, Thierry Gregor, Estelle Ingrand-Varenne, Savvas Mavromatidis, Maria Villano.  

Et la voix et l’œil derrière les images :  Philippe Kern et Stéphane Kowalczyk.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search