Coming soon—we have a series of major lectures and an associated exhibition on perspective—as developed by Dr Alan Radley FRSA, who is Scientific Director of the Perspective Research Centre.
In these lectures Alan presents a new unified theory of the visual dimensions of art, science and culture.
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 method(s) 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 creator of ‘systemised dimensional space(s)’ during the Renaissance.
Explored is the application of perspective in modern times; whereby perspective was employed as a way to enhance the accuracy of architectural and engineering drawings, enable remote sensing methods, plus for mapping techniques and obtaining accurate environmental views. All in all, perspective led to a dramatically improved understanding of, and ultimately dominance of, reality.
Explained is how perspective introduced new way(s) 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, major scientific developments and also the industrial revolution. Discussed is how perspective has been instrumental to the space race, plus the computer, telecommunications and 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 introduces and defines the three fundamental types of ‘scenic’ perspective as ‘visual‘, ‘graphic‘ and ‘mental‘; whereby all three types may contain and/or be formed from viewpoint geometries of one type or another.
A perspective view typically forms a systemised—but often warped—illusory dimensional space composed of specific and normally integrated ‘optical and projective affects‘ that taken together create apparent scene imagery. Said view simulates the image-forming processes present in reality; whereby geometric projection of field-extensive light ray bundles progress from an object to the image. Ergo resultant images typically contain ‘vanishing point‘, and/or ‘line mapping‘ element(s)—being important perspective related themes that are subsequently developed in forthcoming lectures.
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 as a method of enhancing reality, perspective can be seen as a quest for certification of sight, measurement and representation, whereby we make accurate views, maps and models and in this manner and are able to 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, plus in the creation of new environments; whereby both are made possible by means of a host of perspective processes, methods, machines and instruments like the sextant, proportional compass, camera, microscope, telescope etc. Finally perspective ideas have been central to the creation of 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 from throughout time.
We humans naturally form visual and apparent 3D dimensional images of things/processes inside our heads. Put simply, we run little ‘movie’ scenarios by means of 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 to a large degree determined by the forms and sophistication of perspective systems that a particular person has at his/her disposal.
By accurately prescribing, indexing and modelling reality; perspective enabled accurate systemised worlds to be developed on media, and also sometimes distorted explorative worlds to be developed in the human mind and/or model and subsequently be recorded on media as well. The explicit dimensional worlds made possible using perspective machines/methods; enable new ideas, concepts, forms and/or conglomerations of objects to be explored, some objects/processes being 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 (they break the rules of physics), or else due to a lack of time and energy and other resources to explore said structures adequately.
Perspective, because it allowed creation of imaginary 3D worlds that centred on a particular viewpoint and specific operational scenario, allowed new concepts to be developed at the speed of thought. We no longer needed to try everything out in reality. The inner world (sometimes exemplified using a media ‘amplifier’) then became the master and shaper of the outer; primarily because we were now able to ‘imaginatively see into the real-world’ and/or ‘explore in great detail’ potential perspective views of things in experimental contexts.
Alan takes us through many examples of the creation and application of imaginative/explorative solution finding techniques; using perspective techniques such as illusion, trompe-l’oeil, 3D and higher dimensional views, viewpoint selection, zooming and panning, way-finding, Virtual Reality, engineering drawing, panoramic spaces, anamorphic techniques etc.
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 also in 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 the post-modern art movements etc. Next we look in detail at how perspective shaped the development of engineering and science from the earliest times in ancient thought, through to renaissance and modern times.
Finally, we take a look at the historical development of technology, and elucidate how perspective has shaped inventive efforts and also especially the creation/application of many pivotal invention(s) from the photographic camera, film and cinema, television, mobile phone, satellite imaging, internet and social networks etc.
Alan concludes the lecture series by reviewing the various role(s) that perspective has played in human history, evolution and technological, social and and cultural development(s). He postulates that advances in perspective are in all likelihood, key driver(s) of human progress, and in past, present and future senses. Furthermore, future developments and the inevitable progress in perspective knowledge and viewpoint and dimensional modelling/mapping related applications may determine human destiny in the most profound ways imaginable.
Watch this space for details of how to book your place at these ‘ Dimensions of Perspective’ events.
Note that we are also planning a series of books and a documentary series on the ‘Dimensions of Perspective’. Watch this space for more information.