6. Fire (Evolution as Adaption)
Image: Blake, Plate 6, detail of The Emanation of Albion, Jerusalem, 1804-1820. The Emanation of Albion is a man (Britain), a woman, (Four Zoas), and Albion, a city or "the Universal Humanity."
Slide 1: When a theory of optics became a theory of art, (as a "window on the world), it disrupted not only how we experienced space (as separate from us) and ourselves, (perspective made the viewer the primary locus of perception.
Slide 2: Filippo Brunelleschi's Theory of Perspective, (although derived from an Islamic Theory of Optics written before the Renaissance), presented a theory of perspective that became not only a theory of Art, (as a "window on the world"), it paved the way for a highly rational (linear) world view however, it also put a new emphasis on the individual. Not only did Renaissance artists began to believe that their insights and interpretations of the divine should be valued, (now patrons began to commission specific artists for their individual interpretations; because of their "unique genius" (Belting, 2011), but it gave the viewer a more important role as the focus and source of the perspective view.
Slide 3: Descartes's Method (1637) and, later, Newton's Principia (1687), reinforced the split between spirit and matter that was made into an almost unbridgeable gap between dead nature and spirit. Closing this gap between the material world of rocks, and plants, animals, and our bodies, (lifeless machines) and the spark of life, with its universal laws (certain, universal, knowledge) became a motivation for the scientific revolution.
Slide 4: Cimabue's Madonna is the unquestioned center of a Medieval world that valued her compassionate spirit. She appears larger than the Saints and angels because she is more important. She does not live in a rational world defined by the perspective system because her celestial world is infused with devotion and ecstasy.
Slide 5: Masaccio's Trinity (1426) presents the figures of Christ, God, and the Holy Ghost in perspective and in the specific space of the architecture of the church, Santa Maria Novella. By depicting the divine in the space of this actual church, (not in the otherworldly space of the divine), this painting was no longer a portal to a celestial world, but instead, the celestial showed up in the rational space of the physical church.
Slide 6: Piero della Francesca's Flagellation shows what happens when perspective dominates, the ambassadors in the foreground become more important than the figures at the center of the narrative. The logical perspective "arrangement" has the effect of "transforming" the meaning of the primary narrative.
Slide 7: The invention of moveable-type (1450), suddenly made books affordable and as a consequence, people learned to read, education was transformed, and standardization began to occur. The sharing of ideas ( non-linear networking, not top down compliance) was transformational because it set the foundation for our Modern Era.
Slide 8: Without the invention of Chinese papermaking the publishing industry could not have emerged; our Modern Era was a global movement
Slide 9: Changing from an oral culture to a written, or reading culture was astonishingly disruptive and we are still living in its transformative wake today.
Slide 10: Nuremberg Chronicles 1493
Slide 11: Paper Making processes were often found outside of the town wall because of the pungent smell and always along a river.
Slide 12: Map of Europe in 1500
Slide 13: Map of the distribution of the printing industry in 1500.
Slide 14: Disruption can be innovative and destructive at the same time. The printing revolution came with unexpected consequences that we are still experincing, including the protestant revolution (1517), the impact of the novel, which increased the importance of individual subjectivity and eventually, the development of the importance of individual liberty, all impossible without a reading public.
Slide 15: A rational system imposed on an organic figure; it is and remains an awkward contradiction.
Slide 16: Albrecht Durer, Melancholia (1514). Consider this figure as the new modern individual who anticipates Shakespear's troubled Hamlet (1600).