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Giotto's applications of embodied perception: Lateral and vertical dimensions of space

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Giotto's Arena Chapel frescoes, dating from the early fourteenth century, provide salient illustrations of two types of embodied perceptions. One is universal, a consequence of biology and the physical laws of nature, linked to the vertical dimension of space, and impacting on affect and moral judgement. The other is culturally determined, acquired from the direction of reading script and affecting perceptions of directions of movement, time and causality. Giotto's intuitive use of embodiments, the result of a newly evolving realism in painting, may have prompted late mediaeval chapel-visitors to empathize with the storied biblical characters, so that figures that were once only the object of religious veneration and awe were now made into living beings with a shared humanity, resulting in an awakening of a personal agency that fueled the Renaissance and Modernism.
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Keywords: Embodiment; Giotto; Laterality; Personal agency; Verticality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Publication date: November 2, 2015

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