Traditional creation of visual space (via the Renaissance)


The invention of one-point or mathematical perspective was a major contribution of the Italian Renaissance of the early fifteenth century to the future of art history; the perspectival approach to representation of the illusion of three-dimensional space onto a two-dimensional surface significantly considered how images were made, seen, and considered for centuries. And as we discussed, perspective was not simply an technique that created three-dimensional illusion; it was also employed by artists and, it is likely, seen by contemporaries as being a carrier of meaning about the messages of works of art. In other words, perspective in works like Masaccio’s Trinity fresco worked hand-in-hand with the religious theme of the work, underscoring the logical and comprehensible nature of a Christian mystery.

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Now, in the contemporary and current moment, we are now experiencing a new “spatial” revolution or at least disruption in how increasingly many of us are living large portions of our lives on the computer, before other forms of screens (like TVs), and with the spatial realities and dislocations that the computers and screens create or afford. For this paper, your task is to build upon your knowledge of Renaissance perspective in how it created both illusion and meaning in order to approach the current new spatial phenomenon evident in our computer and online usage. Choose a specific visual reality of the modern moment (it could be Zoom, but it could be any number of current realities that suggest a new form of space and spaces) that represents a different kind of spatial reality. Write a two-page essay that is a cultural commentary on that new spatial reality, but do so in reference to the Renaissance tradition. In other words, make sure that you reference what you know about the traditional creation of visual space (via the Renaissance) as you launch into a thoughtful commentary on our new spatial reality or realities.

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