The visual environment of Byzantine churches does not aim to extent reality or to make worship participants believe to chimerical visions by means of optical illusions. Its purpose is to reveal the reality of “heaven on earth” which is considered to be perceivable mainly beyond but also with the human senses. Marinos Kalligas states that there is no other space which is designed for the human eye in such an extent, neither something can be found which is so diligently calculated for being a route as it happens in the interior of Byzantine church. Hence, it seems that the interest about scanpath and navigation process is much older than the modern research on Human Factors. The key elements of this visual environment, where iconicity plays a major role, are the relevant lighting systems. These systems relied for centuries to the flames of oil and beeswax candles and to the manipulation of sunlight shafts through, carefully positioned and appropriately constructed, windows. The well-designed dynamic interplay of the light coming from these sources with the colors of icons, tesserae of mosaics, gold of relief icons, surfaces of marbles etc. combined with other sensory stimuli during worship like fragrance of censer and byzantine music made the participant’s visual perception a medium of noetic transition. In most cases nowadays, Orthodox churches which inherited Byzantium have not managed yet to create visual environments of the same “aura” by means of the modern lighting technology (like the current solid-state lighting). A folkloric tendency of keeping the form of traditional lighting sources as a souvenir from the past but not their way has dominated (e.g. candelabras evolved to huge chandeliers with hundreds of bulbs). This approach of objectification is maybe interacting with the subconscious transition of worship participants to worship onlookers and with the increasing demand for worship souvenirs (e.g. online worship).
Michail Papanikolaou has graduated as an Electrical and Computer engineer from the National Technical University of Athens in 2013. Since 2012 he belongs to the Design Team of Stilvi Lighting Ltd. He has been involved in a wide range of lighting design projects including monuments of high cultural importance. His main contribution to relevant projects focuses on the integrative design of lighting control systems and the evaluation and selection of lighting control technologies with regard to their user-friendliness and interconnectivity options, while he participates in all phases of the development of a lighting design concept by carrying out lighting calculations and photometric lab and mock-up tests on site. He is a member of the Hellenic Illumination Committee Council and he belongs to the teaching staff of the International Lighting Design Workshop “Rethink the Night!” since 2014. His research interests focus on the interaction between Lighting and Human Factors and on the investigation of human bodily reactions and physical condition by means of respective sensors allowing a real time monitoring (e.g. mobile EEG, eye-tracking etc.). He is currently pursuing a PhD about the influence of the context of byzantine churches indoor environment, their respective tradition and worship activity on the acceptability of various lighting schemes with regard to Human Factors.