The Perspective Research Centre (PRC) is a research and educational centre focused on the visual dimensions of Art, Science, and Technology.
PRC collects materials on the history, theory, and applications of perspective, projection methods, vision, imaging, 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
Perspective is a foundation of human imaginative and creative potentials.
Visual or Optical Perspective deals with the changing appearance of things when observed from a particular viewpoint or series of viewpoints, especially as they extend into the third dimension or depth. These methods are referred to herein simply as perspective, phenomena that enable humans to accurately prescribe/index/model spatial reality and thus systematically explore visual forms/shapes/features.
Perspective 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 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.
The PRC seeks rational insight into the various classes, 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, negative (reverse), divergent, axial or fishbone, curvilinear and parallel perspectives—are also studied. Our ambitious aim is to unite all perspective knowledge under a single subject heading, heralding the birth of perspective science as a stand-alone discipline—or primary field of study—with established foundational theory and, above all, unified laws.
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.
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.
For over 30 years, Kim Veltman was the world’s number one expert on perspective, and was also the founder and director of the aforementioned organisations. Following his sad passing in April 2020, PRC maintains the official archive of Professor Kim Veltman’s lifetime works – as listed in the Kim Veltman Archive (0.5 MB pdf file), including many unpublished papers, letters, books, treatises, and other manuscripts. This incredible knowledge bank consists of 10,000 pages spread across over 400 publications on perspective and related topics.
PPC curates a number of scientific 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 (2MB pdf file), consisting of 5,000 physical volumes (catalogued), 10,000 digital papers/books (uncatalogued), hundreds of articles/papers/theses/treatises, and 33,000 digital 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, imaging and vision.
The literature of perspective has been surveyed by Kim Veltman in: Literature on Perspective: A Select Bibliography (1971-1984); which serves as a comprehensive introduction to the subject. Kim also penned many other works on perspective and related subjects, which can all be downloaded from this site.
PRC maintains the standard world Bibliography of Perspective (14 MB pdf file); 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.
Leonardo da Vinci
Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci was an early pioneer of perspective techniques, employing a supremely visual approach to his remarkably inventive studies of the natural/built world(s).
The 6,500 pages of Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks contain ca. 100,000 sketches, diagrams, and drawings. Even today, we can learn much from Leonardo’s explicit explanations in his notes concerning the supremacy of visual images over verbal ones. Accordingly, we are engaged in a comprehensive study of Leonardo’s optical, perspective, and spatial methods—to probe his working techniques and in an attempt to answer why Leonardo was so concerned with visual images.
Kim Veltman was a leading scholar of Leonardo da Vinci; wherein he wrote three major treatises on Leonardo, running to several thousand pages, plus he authored over a dozen influential papers on Leonardo. We shall publish all of Kim’s works on Leonardo in digital form.
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.
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).
We are building a Museum of Perspective; being a collection of early perspective instruments and related visual methods.
The museum includes historical records of visual instruments such as lenses, mirrors, windows, the perspective window and box, camera obscura and lucidia, early stereoscopes, etc. Direct viewing methods are explored, including optical illusions, panoramas, holograms, 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 image projection instruments, such as 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 with our Library of Perspective to gather everything known on perspective, vision, imaging, 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.
We are committed to educating young people about the fascinating history of perspective and the exciting possibilities that perspective offers to future generations.
Perspective is a broad subject that encompasses a vast range of theoretical methods, principles, and techniques, which sometimes also involve perspective instruments like the sextant, compass, camera, telescope, microscope, planisphere, pantograph, computer, satellite, etc. Perspective methods have been central to developing photography, cinema, television, satellite imaging, mobile phones, the internet, etc. All in all, the wondrous theories/methods/instruments of perspective – lie at the epicentre of human progress.
Accordingly, we are developing a book, lecture series, and documentary film entitled: ‘Dimensions of Perspective’. Plus, we are building a list of some key people behind these developments, named the Pioneers of Perspective, including classic inventions/treatises/theses.
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!