The last few years have seen an explosion of medieval images in digital form, chiefly as a result of photo-library and manuscript digitisation projects. An entire corpus of images, even selected solely by scene or iconography, becomes an unwieldy object of study by traditional art-historical means. This is even more the case for medieval images, where authorship and dating are often cloudy and unclear, and the image itself is in many cases the first resource for scholarly inquiry.We take the digital image – in particular, the digital image of the body – as our object of study in a wide-ranging computationally-augmented reading of an image-corpus; ours is made up of thousands of depictions of the ‘Annunciation’ and ‘Baptism’, selected not only for their primacy in Christian art but for their dialogical interaction. Our corpus of 6,564 ‘Annunciations’ and 883 ‘Baptisms’, whilst not necessarily representative in density, includes a wide range of stylistic, theological and historical tendencies.We computationally extract not only body images but poses, gestures and interactions. Such a range of gestures allows for a morphological treatment of bodily motifs, whose multi-dimensional, quantitative nature allows us to complicate and problematise iconographic taxonomies, populating the spaces between categories. Finally, our gestural manifolds provide a morphological pointer to dissecting the microtemporalities of the scenes, and their relative dynamics and inconsistencies.
© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston