Coming soon—we have a series of major lectures and an associated documentary on perspective—as developed by Dr Alan Radley FRSA, Scientific Director of the Perspective Research Centre.
In these lectures, Alan presents a new unified theory of the visual dimensions of art, science, and technology.
Dimensions of Perspective
Alan takes us through the fascinating history of perspective in the West.
Described is how perspective emerged from pre-history as a tenuous, splintered, and often unconscious—set of methods for enhancing realism in art. In the ancient world, perspective was overtly employed as an architectural illusive technique. Perspective was later employed in a fully codified mathematical form—as the creator of ‘systemised dimensional space(s)’ during the Renaissance.
Explored is the application of perspective in modern times, whereby perspective was employed to enhance the accuracy of architectural and engineering drawings, enable remote sensing methods, plus mapping techniques, and obtain accurate environmental views. Overall, perspective led to a dramatically improved understanding of, and ultimately dominance of, reality.
Explained is how perspective introduced new ways of viewing, matching, and making representations of the physical world. This changed the meaning of metaphor and the relation of verbal texts to visual expressions. Demonstrated is how perspective was central to, and arguably led to, significant scientific developments and also the industrial revolution. Discussed is how perspective has been instrumental to the space race, plus the computer, telecommunications, internet revolutions, etc.
Alan ends by contrasting the western approaches to perspective with visual methods as employed in Oriental cultures.
Lecture 1: Perspective and Reality
In this first lecture, Alan defines the six fundamental categories of ‘technical’ perspective as visual, mathematical, graphical, instrument, forced (trick) and media perspectives, whereby all types may contain or be formed from viewpoint geometries of one kind or another.
First, we examine the exceptionally rich and diverse sources, and countless influences/applications, of the different perspective forms. A key goal of these lectures is to conjoin all perspective categories and themes together into a single model to produce a comprehensive new theory of perspective as developed throughout time.
Placing all technical details aside, people often fail to realise why perspective is such an important topic. The answer is that perspective draws attention to the distinction between subject and object; and inspired a fascination with views, which split into two different directions. One was towards realism, leading to topographical views, geometrical and architectural drawings—hence accurate dimensional measurement. The second led to panoramic, distorted, imaginative, and illusionistic spaces.
When employed to enhance reality, 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 can develop and test our theories of the real world.
Concordant with such developments has been the use of perspective to aid in the accurate mapping of environments, and the creation of new environments. Both are made possible using a host of perspective processes, methods, machines, and instruments like the sextant, compass, camera, microscope, etc. Finally, perspective ideas have been central to creating photographic, film, and television media and thus shaped all aspects of modern culture.
Notably, all of these different perspective-related developments have profoundly improved human knowledge, understanding, and ultimately consciousness of reality, and so led to an ever-increasing ability to probe, model, control, and shape the world in which we live.
Lecture 2: Perspective and Imagination
Perspective has been a foundation of human imaginative and creative potentials throughout time.
Humans naturally form visual and apparent three-dimensional (3D) images of things/processes inside our heads. We run little ‘movie’ scenarios using our ‘inner-eye’, whereby these images most often convey happenings in a type of inner perspective view of a scene (we form ‘mental’ perspectives).
It is shown that the power of the imagination to model and shape reality is largely determined by the forms and sophistication of perspective systems that a particular culture has at its disposal.
By accurately prescribing, indexing, and modelling reality; perspective enabled accurate systemised worlds to be developed on media. By means of perspective views, new kinds of visual solutions can be created in the human mind or model and subsequently be recorded on media. The explicit dimensional worlds made possible using perspective machines/methods enable new ideas, concepts, forms and conglomerations of objects to be explored. Some objects/processes are really existent ones, and some only imaginary (at a particular time).
Ergo object and process designs were testable and composable in new ways that often could not be attempted in the real world due to a lack of possibility; either because said design breaks the rules of physics, or due to a lack of time and energy, or else a lack of resources with which to explore said structures adequately.
Perspective, because it allowed the creation of imaginary 3D worlds centred on a particular viewpoint and specific operational scenarios, allowed new concepts to be developed at the speed of thought. We no longer needed to try everything out in reality. The inner world then became the master and shaper of the outer. Instrument/media perspectives were employed as perception and cognitive ‘amplifiers’; primarily because we were now able to ‘imaginatively see into the real-world,’ or ‘explore in great detail’, real and potential perspective views of things in experimental contexts.
Alan takes us through many examples of the application of new and imaginative solution-finding techniques—all made possible by technical perspective-related methods/instruments/media/machines. Along the way, he develops—a new history of art, science, and technology—identifying technical perspective as a critical driver of progress.
Lecture 3: Perspective, Art, Science, Technology
This final lecture consists of a comprehensive review of the application of perspective methods in the arts, sciences, and the world of technology.
We begin by looking at how perspective influenced the development of almost every art and design movement, from pre-history and ancient times to classical, modern, and post-modern art movements. Next, we look in detail at how perspective shaped the development of engineering and science from the earliest times in ancient thought to Renaissance and modern times.
Finally, we look at the historical development of technology and elucidate how perspective has shaped creative efforts, especially the creation/application of many pivotal inventions. Examples include the photographic camera, film and cinema, television, mobile phone, satellite imaging, hypermedia, the internet, social networks, etc.
Alan concludes the lecture series by reviewing the various roles that perspective has played in human history, technological evolution, and artistic, scientific, social, and cultural developments. He postulates that perspective is a fundamental driver of human progress in the past, present, and future senses. Furthermore, future developments and the inevitable improvement in perspective knowledge, plus related viewpoint and dimensional modelling/mapping-related applications, may determine human destiny in the most profound ways imaginable.
Watch this space for details of a ‘Dimensions of Perspective’ presentation taking place near you. We are also planning a book, an exhibition, and a documentary series on the ‘Dimensions of Perspective’.
Watch this space for more information.