Perspective in Perspective

The Perspective Research Centre (PRC) is a research and educational centre focused on the visual dimensions of Art, Science, Culture and Technology.

PRC collects materials on the history, theory, and applications of perspective, vision, projection methods, and spatial concepts. We provide free and open access to perspective resources; for the benefit of all.

Herein you will find a vast archive of information on perspective, including a subject Dictionary, Library, Bibliography, Encyclopedia, and Gallery; plus links to countless publications on this seminal topic. We have spent over three decades gathering together, indexing, and carefully organising, this unique knowledge bank to provide easy access to everything known on perspective.

We hope you find these resources informative, helpful, and enjoyable.

Status of Perspective 

Patently, there are many different classes of perspective, including the visual and literal forms. At the PRC, we are mainly concerned with Visual Perspective or Optical/Technical Perspective (referred to simply as perspective).

Perspective is a relatively new method that is a key to understanding major categories of art/science/technology in the past 500 years. Related topics include space, time, optics, human eye/vision, colour, drawing and mathematics (geometry), reality, illusion, imagination, and representation.

Perspective is central to developments in various subjects; including art, photography, television, cinema, scenography, engineering, architecture, gardens and environment, etc. Recent developments also have strong links to perspective; such as hypermedia, geographical information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), virtual reality (VR), computer graphics (CG), computer-generated imagery (CGI), computer vision, robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), stereography, panoramas, holograms and space imagery.

In sum, perspective lies at the epicentre of progress and is pivotal to everything humans will achieve in the future. QED.

Our Mission 

The PRC seeks rational insight into the various technical methods, plus practical applications, of perspective, and associated visual media.

A basic goal is to gather what is known on perspective as developed in Western cultures. Alternative methods in non-Western cultures—aspective, inverted, axial, curvilinear, and parallel perspectives—are also studied.

By collecting, developing, linking, and applying the theories, principles, and methods of perspective, the PRC can support knowledge organisation, education, and technology development across a range of artistic, scientific, environmental and cultural disciplines.

Origins 

The Perspective Research Centre (PRC) has a rich 30-year history.

PRC developed from two past organisations, the Perspective Unit at the University of Toronto, and the Maastricht McLuhan Institute (MMI). We have inherited an important scientific legacy from these organisations, including the Library, Dictionary, Bibliography, Encyclopedia of Perspective, etc.

PRC curates a number of scientific archives on perspective. For over 30 years, Kim Veltman was the world’s number one expert on perspective. PRC maintains the official archive of Professor Kim Veltman’s lifetime works, including many unpublished papers, letters, books, treatises, and other manuscripts. This incredible knowledge bank consists of 10,000 pages spread across 350 publications on perspective and related topics. 

PRC holds other important archives on perspective, including the complete works of Professor Marshall McLuhan, Professor Sir Ernst Gombrich, Professor B.A.R. Carter (Professor of Perspective at the Royal Academy), and Professor Kenneth Keele (President of the Royal Society of Medicine). Founder Kim Veltman also worked closely with human vision experts Professor(s) A.C. Crombie plus R.A. Weale, and we hold detailed records of these collaborations.

Today our work continues, as we strive to progress our goal of a single route of access to all knowledge on the seminal subject of perspective.

Library,  Bibliography, and Encyclopedia

The PRC curates an extensive collection of unique and world-leading materials on perspective and related subjects.

Established over 50 years, is our Library of Perspective, consisting of 5,500 physical volumes, 4,000 digital books, hundreds of articles/papers/theses/treatises, 33,000 digital images, and 12,000 slide images. Plus, we own a rare 500 volume library on Leonardo da Vinci, including one-of-a-kind manuscripts cataloging and explaining his scientific methodology in full.

Today the PRC library is unsurpassed in the private field, and in the future, we shall continue collecting new materials on perspective. The library aims to collect all specialised literature in the field(s) of perspective, projection methods, spatial concepts, and vision.

PRC maintains the standard world Bibliography of Perspective; initially developed by Professor Luigi Vagnetti and later progressed by Professor Kim Veltman—who together spent 90 years compiling a list of 15,000 perspective titles from throughout time. In 2020, PRC published the Encyclopedia of Perspective (2,500 pages), the definitive work on its subject matter that is a wonder to behold. 

Plus, we are working on the Encyclopedia of Leonardo Da Vinci, which unites all of Kim Veltman’s writings on the great polymath. This outstanding multi-volume work comprehensively explains Leonardo’s scientific methodology and perspective visualisation techniques.

Most of these resources are freely available herein (apart from the library).

Dictionary, Taxonomy and Category Theory  

We are producing a Dictionary of Perspective, a standard lexicon of all terms on perspective, projection methods, vision, and spatial concepts. The dictionary began as a knowledge package on Kim Veltman’s: System For Universal Media Searching (SUMS). All the different facets of perspective were indexed for the first time, and made available on the Internet (years 2000-2020).

Creating a new version of the Dictionary of Perspective is challenging and will take a little time to complete. We shall publish the dictionary as an alphabetical list over the coming months and later turn it into a general-purpose reference book.

Our Perspective Category Theory unites all facets under a single framework, providing a comprehensive new model and accurate taxonomic-tree—of all possible types and classes of perspective. Along the way, we introduce perspective concepts and related terms to accurately delineate, explore and meticulously analyse, the field of perspective (as a whole).

Museum 

We are building a Museum of Perspective; being a collection of early perspective instruments and related visual methods. 

The museum includes historical records of direct viewing instruments such as lenses, mirrors, windows, the perspective window and box, camera obscura and lucidia, optical illusions, panoramas, early stereoscopes, holograms, and Virtual Reality (VR) systems, etc. Also held are timeline details of the history of image capture and viewing instruments, including various types of cameras, telescopes, binoculars, microscopes, etc. 

The museum details the history of measuring instruments used for copying, mapping, modelling, and calculating aspects of spatial reality. For example, we collect early examples of the ruler, caliper, protractor, gauge, dial, slide rule, nautical slide rule, pantograph, planisphere, etc. Plus, we have extensive records of geographic/planetary/star map(s), sundials, and various kinds of compass (trigonometry, sector, and reduction).

Next, we collect details—and early examples—of all kinds of image projection instruments, for example, the zoetrope, kinetoscope, magic lantern, slide and film projector, etc. Finally, we do not neglect human vision, the eye and visual perception; we collect details of early vision theories, models, and related images.

The Museum of Perspective works in tandem with our Library of Perspective to gather everything known on perspective, vision, and related spatial topics.

We are busy cataloging and publishing our Gallery of Perspective; being a vast collection of perspective-related images collected over 30 years. The gallery consists of 33,000 images of all types, including drawings, paintings, photographs, microfilms, slides, films, stereograms, holograms, etc.

There are plans to develop a categorical approach to perspective views, images, models, and measurements, combined with a grammar of key spatial shapes linked with digitised images to create a new Visual Encyclopedia of Knowledge.

Overall, the task of publishing the Gallery of Perspective, is considerable. Accordingly, we shall publish specific parts of the gallery as time allows.


Dimensions of Perspective 

Perspective is a foundation of human imaginative and creative potentials.

Perspective involves time as well as space. Because it is integrally connected with the rise of narrative and literacy, perspective offers essential insights into the interdependence of western literature and art. Because it transforms depicted and real spaces, perspective demonstrates how construction and representation of the human-made world change the world of nature; how mastery of key spatial elements transforms the very concept of environment.

Perspective draws attention to the distinction between subject and object; and inspired a fascination with views, which split into three different directions. 

One movement was towards realism, leading to topographical views, geometrical and architectural drawings—hence accurate dimensional measurement. A key part of this path was that persons began to approach the same objects systematically from different viewpoints and on different scales. Accordingly, perspective can be seen as a quest for certification of sight, measurement, and representation, whereby we make accurate views, maps, and models. In this manner, we develop and test our theories of the real world.

The second movement led to panoramic, distorted, imaginative, and illusionistic spaces. Ergo, perspective enabled a whole range of new images, including regular solids, semi-regular solids, lutes, chairs, stairs, complex plays of shadow and reflections, grotesques and caryatids, imaginary gardens, fountains, idealised ruins, panoramas, and phantasy architecture. 

Finally, perspective ideas have been central to creating photographic, film, and television media, plus hypermedia and the Internet. In sum, perspective has profoundly shaped all aspects of modern art/science/technology/culture. 

Challenge of the Future 

Perspective is an old subject with an exciting future. Today the field of perspective is positively brimming over with many new theories, methods, inventions, and vital application areas, and it continues to evolve at a rapid pace.

Perspective provides distance to see matters in truth. A salient example is when the crew of Apollo held a live broadcast in 1968. As their command module floated seventy miles above the lunar surface (and 400,000 km from earth), the three astronauts closed with “good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless to all of you, all of you on the good earth.” The underlying sentiment is clear; the earth is our home, it is all we have and all that we will ever have (so far as we know); ergo, we must treasure and look after it.

We explore the past, present and future of perspective. However, we do so not merely for academic reasons. Instead, we desire to find new applications of perspective—to help us better understand, preserve, and manage limited environmental resources—and thus hopefully make life better for all of us here on the ‘good earth’.

The PRC is interested in all kinds of perspective, including the visual and symbolic classes of perspective and their numerous sub-categories. A key challenge of the future is applying both old and new forms of perspective in auspicious ways, enabling us to visualise, model, and create a more humane world.

Patently, concerning perspective, there is much to do. Wish us luck! 



-- < LATEST NEWS > --

We are working hard to finish the first edition of the PRC website, and we aim to complete it by June 2022. Due to the scale of our ambitions, not every aspect of this site will be finished by that date. However, the primary elements related to our new Perspective Category Theory will be in place. 

We are busy publishing and making Kim Veltman's work freely available. Plus, we are cataloguing, organising and shelving our vast library on perspective and related topics, and publishing details of historically important concepts, theories, research books, and papers on perspective.

We are also developing a lecture series entitled: 'Dimensions of Perspective'; and producing a related book and documentary film.

Everything at the PRC is developing at a fast pace. Stay tuned in!

In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any questions.

I appreciate your patience.

Alan Radley -- 1st May 2022 --


Dr Alan Radley FRSA | Scientific Director
e: alansradley@gmail.com

Perspective Research Centre
www.perspectiveresearchcentre.com