Perspective as Symbolic Form
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Die Perspektive als "symbolische Form" (English: Perspective as Symbolic Form) is a text by Erwin Panofsky.
- "Item Perspectiva ist ein lateinisch Wort, bedeutt ein Durchsehung" ("Perspectiva is a Latin word which means 'seeing through'."). This is how Durer sought to explain the concept of perspective. And although this lateinisch Wort was used already by Boethius, and did not originally bear so precise a meaning, we shall nevertheless adopt in essence Durer's definition. We shall speak of a fully "perspectival"view of space not when mere isolated objects, such as houses or furniture, are represented in "foreshortening," but rather only when the entire picture has been transformed - to cite another Renaissance theoretician - into a "window," and when we are meant to believe we are looking through this window into a space. The material surface upon which the individual figures or objects are drawn or painted or carved is thus negated, and instead reinterpreted as a mere "picture plane." Upon this picture plane is projected the spacial continuum which is seen through it and which is understood to contain all the various individual objects. So far it does not matter whether this projection is determined by an immediate sensory impression or by a more or less "correct" geometrical construction. This correct construction was in fact invented in the Renaissance, and although later subjected to various technical improvements and simplifications, it nevertheless remained in its premises and goals unchanged to the time of Desargues. --tr. Christopher S. Wood
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