|A New Alphabet ~ Commentary C 1|
The Fiery Ascension of Elijah. Novgorod,
Text: Definitions: Icon and Parsunas.
For this page design, the letter “C”, is composed of Natalie Goncharova’s twentieth century painting, Evangelist and two traditional Icon Paintings of the Virgin and Elijah Ascending on a chariot. The Evangelist emulates the style of the Russian Icon formula in an early twentieth century rendition. A continuing tradition of Eastern European visual writing is derived from iconoclasm. Influences are traced to the Hellenistic period with technopeignia writing (Theocritus), Greek Orthodox Iconoclasm and from the Byzantine era with tabulae iliacae or pattern poems (Theodoros 50 B.C. - C.E. 50). A modern example is Simeon Polotskii's (1629-1680) Russian carmina figurata. According to Tatiana Nazarenko, "The "poezographical" compositions of [contemporary] Ukrainian practitioners Tetiana and Volodymyr Chuprynin are first and foremost perceived as refined works of graphic art. In each composition the letters are arranged in a sequence in perspective which spell out the definite word" (4).
Icons--Christian images—first appeared around the third century to promote Christianity. Using the earlier art forms of the mystery religions, the pagan Romans and Egyptian funerary painting, iconography and the basic compositional schemes became formally established by the Byzantine era. In 726, under Emperor Leo III, overzealous puritans, arguing that misinterpretation of icons lead to heresy, banned religious representational art in a systematic destruction of holy icons, known as the period of iconoclasm.
To fight the iconoclasts, the
iconodules (the defenders or lovers of icons) sought to
prove that veneration of icons was not idolatry. More than a
controversy about religious art, Iconoclasm was a dispute
about the creation and the salvation of the entire material
cosmos. The Edict of 780, suspended persecution and
iconography spread to other Orthodox countries: Bulgaria,
Serbia and Russia, where the formulae became established and
elaborated in local schools. The transition from religious
painting to secular portraiture in the renaissance is a
significant marker for the end of the medieval period of
western culture. The new style of portrait painting came
into prominence as the art of icon painting was
discontinued. For history on Slavic visual writing see Tatiana Nazarenko's
"The East Slavic Visual Writing: The Inception of Tradition"
in Canadian Slavonic Papers. (2001).
During the middle 1980’s, Apple Computers and Microsoft Corporation re-introduced the term “icon” into contemporary usage to describe the user interface of the Apple Macintosh Computer (1984) and ‘Windows’ (1986) operating systems with the “point and click” feature set. Icons are the name given to pictographic tools in the personal computer menu system called a “desktop’ by which users select commands. Other nomenclature about iconography in the personal computer includes WYSIWYG, “What you see is what you get”. Icons are now commonly used for restaurant menus and international signage.
|© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. Contact: Jeanie S. Dean. Updated: 01/18/04|