Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Visibility and Virtuality

Lorenzo Ghiberti's Gates of Paradise, 15th c Florence, cast bronze

I get to geek out on linear perspective for Whitney Davis' proseminar in Art History. The first time I covered linear perspective among art historians, I suggested there may be no deeper reason to omit the more distant floor grid in this panel of Florence's baptistry doors than Ghiberti's lack of tinier tools. Tool size limits the depiction of spaceIn today's burgeoning visual culture, glitches in spatial depiction arise, and we lack shared vocabulary to describe the effectsDavis sets out to provide terms we can use to talk about how people depict and relate to images and ideas of 3D space. He is deep into it. 
Today my goal is to persuade academics to draw simple perspectives and hope they sense the perceptive constraints one must accept to participate in this illusion...not unlike the beliefs we suspend when we pull on an Oculus headset. Regardless of tools & equipment, Ibn al Hazen10th c scientist and unwitting parent of linear perspective says the act of seeing may begin with light, form and eyes, but is only completed by the mind. That idea makes linear perspective more an interim translation of desire and less a stand-in for a deliverable product.