UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Academic Background


I graduated in Semiotics at the department of Scienze della Comunicazione (Universitá degli Studi di Salerno). In my BA thesis, “Iconicitá e Metafora Visiva” (Iconicity and Visual Metaphor), I proposed a philosophical inquiry into Charles Sanders Peirce’s notion of iconicity, a topic on which I have been working for the past ten years.


Postgraduate Studies

In October 2007, I was awarded a PhD in Science and Technology Studies from University College London. My PhD thesis, entitled Iconicity and Network Thinking in Picasso’s Guernica: A Study of Creativity across the Boundaries” is an interdisciplinary study of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica (1937) based on Charles S. Peirce’s concept of iconic signs. I argued that Peirce’s concept of iconicity, often misunderstood as mere similarity, is best understood as a relation of homomorphism. In abstract algebra and set theory, homomorphism is a mapping between two sets, in which elements, properties and relations are preserved. A theory of iconicity as homomorphism satisfactorily accounts for structure preservation in representations, independently of a literal correspondence between representing facts and perceptual data. In my thesis, I used this novel formulation of iconicity to casts new light on the representative relation governing Guernica. The canvas does not literally “resemble” the historical facts for which it stands –at most it “evokes” them. The representative force of Guernica depends on its conceptual core, the roots of which are found in Picasso’s experimentations across the boundaries of art and science. Through an analysis of over forty preparatory drawings and the seven stages of the canvas in progress, I assessed the import of scientific and technological discoveries upon Picasso’s representation and argued that the preconditions to Guernica are found in his formative years, in which he developed Cubism. The reconstruction of Picasso’s Cubist production served a twofold purpose: to explore the relationship between art, science and technology at the beginning of the 20th Century and to state a correspondence between certain scientific, philosophical and technological issues and the creation of Guernica. Among the topics that influenced Picasso’s creativity towards Guernica, I emphasized the role of non-Euclidean geometries and the debate concerning the nature of space and time, a notion of psychology of form and the development of modern technologies of warfare.

(click here for the introduction and table of contents of my PhD thesis)