CENOBIUM – A Project for the Multimedia Representation of Romanesque Cloister Capitals in the Mediterranean Region

CENOBIUM (Cultural Electronic Network Online: Binding up Interoperably Usable Multimedia) is a multimedia presentation of Romanesque cloister capitals from the Mediterranean region. High-resolution digital photographs, 3-D models, and panoramas will virtually link the capitals to their original surroundings, thus representing them within their original architectural and conceptual contexts.

This project is being undertaken for research purposes in cooperation with ISTI/CNR in Pisa and in association with several international partners. It is also suitable for teaching, for use by museums, and will provide documentation for restoration.

The central aim of this project is to illustrate cultural exchange in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries through the example of architectural sculpture. The most important centers of Romanesque decorated capitals are found in southern France, Spain and Sicily, where the introduction of historiated capitals brought about a paradigm shift around the year 1100.

CENOBIUM grew out ViHAP3D, a project undertaken in cooperation with MPI für Informatik in Saarbrücken, CNR in Pisa, the Soprintendenza beni culturali of Pisa and Minolta Konica. One of the aims of this collaboration was the development of computer graphic technology to enable the three-dimensional depiction of sculpture and other works of art. CENOBIUM is continuing this line of development with a focus on Romanesque capitals, which are ideally suited for three-dimensional documentation. At the same time, both the surfaces and overall material structure of the objects, which cannot be fully rendered in 3-D visualization, will be combined with high resolution photographs in order for their details to be precisely represented. Ultimately, the photographs and 3-D models are available not only in select locations but also in an interactive format on the internet.

CENOBIUM combines classical and innovative methods of art history with the latest in data technology in order to open up new horizons that up to now have not been accessible, even by on-site analysis of the capitals.