Andrea Pinotti

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2017/2018
discipline Visual and Performing Arts
Full Professor in Aesthetics, Università degli Studi di Milano, Department of Philosophy

Research project

Hyper-Image. Simulation, Immersion, and the Challenge of Hyper-realistic Environments


Since the first attempts made in the Forties by Sergei Eisenstein in order to realize a stereoscopic cinema (stereokino), a huge amount of intellectual, technological and financial efforts has been spent to implement an experience of the artificial man-made image so that it becomes impossible for the beholder to distinguish it from actual reality: a "hyper-image", which revokes its status of "image-of", presenting immediately itself as the object it represents.


Various domains are affected by this powerful trend:

(i) the filmic experience ―both in traditional theatres and in home-theatres― is transformed by 3D cinema (enhancing the illusion of depth perception, hence adding a third dimension to the two actually involved in the projection of the image onto a flat screen) and 4D cinema (integrating multisensory synchronized effects, like vibrations, air jets, water sprays, and smell); (ii) the videogame experience is intensified by immersive virtual environments where the player does not stand in front of a landscape, but rather inhabits its space; (iii) the artistic experience is enriched by interactive installations progressively reducing the opposition between artist and beholder, and is exalted by digital prostheses (like Google Art Project) allowing ultra-detailed close-up explorations that would be impracticable in an ordinary museum or gallery; (iv) the professional experience is deeply remodelled according to the new imaging technologies: engineering and architectural visualization procedures, military simulations, socially and politically relevant environments are only some of the fields affected by hyper-images; (v) the daily life experience is imbued with easily accessible and user-friendly applications hybridizing the physiological vision with AR (Augmented Reality) views, like in the case of satellite navigation devices; the production of avatars and human lookalike robots is also progressively affecting our intersubjective and emotional sphere.


In a near future, the widespread diffusion of virtual reality headsets (like the recently released Oculus Rift) will radicalize the paradox of an extremely mediated experience promoting a belief of immediate presence.


As a major consequence of this paradox, the threshold between image and reality is substantially abolished: what was formerly an exceptional violation of the borders (elements of the picture stepping out of the frame or of the screen, or vice versa elements of reality entering the image), becomes now the rule and is no longer perceived as a threshold-trespass.

The research project addresses this complex constellation of problematic issues, aiming at developing a transdisciplinary approach in order to gain a critical comprehension of this phenomenon.




Andrea Pinotti is Full Professor of Aesthetics at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Milan. He holds a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Milan. His main research interests include aesthetics, art theory, art history, the morphological tradition, image theories and visual culture studies, memory studies (monuments and memorials), and empathy theories.




Selected publications

Cultura visuale. Immagini sguardi media dispositivi, with A. Somaini, Einaudi, Torino, 2016.

Une ressemblance différente. Essais de morphologie de l’image, Mimesis, Paris, 2014.

Empatia. Storia di un’idea da Platone al postumano, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2011; French transl. by Sophie Burdet, Empathie. Histoire d’une idée de Platon au post-humain, Vrin, Paris, 2016.

L’immagine rovesciata. Destra e sinistra nell’arte, Tre Lune, Mantova, 2010.

Estetica della pittura, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2007; Spanish transl. by Juan Antonio Méndez, Estética de la pintura, Antonio Machado Libros, Madrid, 2011.





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