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date: 20 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Focusing on the glitter of gold in a fourteenth-century Byzantine cross—today inserted in the famous reliquary of Cardinal Bessarion, Venice, Gallerie dell’Accademia—this chapter uncovers the important role phenomenology plays in the study of the spiritual operations of medieval art. The analysis draws on the inscriptions written on the cross in order to explore how gold’s sparkle functions as a vision of Paradise nourished by the Byzantine liturgy. This renewed engagement with the ephemerality of coruscation challenges the current neo-materialist turn in the humanities invested in semiotics, and argues by contrast that medieval matter is a medium of the spirit, whose descent and in-dwelling unfolds as a sensually saturated event and experience. Glitter, this chapter contends, enacts an optical manifestation—temporal and kinaesthetic—of divine ‘nearness’.

Keywords: cross, phenomenology, glitter, filigree, materiality, Byzantine liturgy

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