The Materiality of Renaissance Perspective
Author(s): Dupré, Sven
The background to this lecture is my conviction that we should consider the polysemy of perspective associated with the practice of perspective. The ways in which Panofsky's "Perspective as Symbolic Form" continues to shape the historiography of perspective up until the present day blackboxes the various uses and meanings of Renaisssance perspective across different sites of appropriation of optical knowledge. Against this background, in this lecture I will show how writing and reading practices in the Renaissance, that is, the materiality of texts on optics and perspective, contributed to artists' establishment as experts based on their knowledge of the secrets of vision. Most artist-readers, like other artisanal or vernacular readers, engaged with texts in a piecemeal fashion. Also, they were more likely to encounter optics cut and past as parts of recipe collections or books of secrets, which flooded the print market in the sixteenth century. Recipes and secrets were transforming vehicles for the transmission of optics. In this process of transformation, optical knowledge was decontextualized and theories of light and vision disappeared in the background. The emphasis of the secrets was on the manipulation of objects and instruments (glass spheres and mirrors in camera obscura settings) to create particular optical effects. In contrast to Panofsky, and acknowledging the polysemy of perspective, the materiality of the texts on perspective constructed a particular definition of perspective similar to Dürer's "Messung".
Dupré, Sven: The Materiality of Renaissance Perspective. (Vortrag, 14.12.2016). Köln: Universität zu Köln/Zentrum für Medienwissenschaften und Moderneforschung (Cologne Media Lectures, 37). DOI: https://doi.org/10.25969/mediarep/12604.
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