JF Ptak Science Books Post #85
In some of the elementary thinking on perspective in the history of art and science there is a certain amount of subtraction that must occur before addition and advancement can be made—these experiments have resulted in some very unusual-singular even—images, which when viewed apart from their proper context and considering the times in which the images were made make them seem revolutionarily modern.
Take for example the extraordinary work of Jean Pelerin (also called "Viator”) in his De artificiali perpectiva, a very rare woodcut-illustrated book printed n Nurenberg in 1509. In illustrating what he referred to as his “three point perspective” Pelerin removed much of the gothic-tradition bric-a-brac that is so heavily favored in these early books and replaced them with outlines from his rather astonishingly expressive notebooks, and replacing people, individual humans, with what may be the first “almost-entirely-absent” human forms. These roundish, ghost-like figures are just meant to hold the outlines of space, meant to function in the role of a simple comparative unit. This works quite well as an artistic technique—a solicitation tool which I think gives his reduced, “empty” humans an incredible, ethereal look unlike any other in the history of the first 60 or so years of printing. It is difficult to imagine what the observer of these images back there in 1509 was thinking when they looked at these figures, and perhaps removed them from their textural context—it would have been a unique visual experience for them
Just a little while latter Erhard Schoen, in his Unnderweissung der proportzion und stellung der posssen liegent und dtehent, printed in Nurenberg (as well!) in 1538, presented another unique way of representing the human form in model for the sack f studying perspective. He used simplified geometric form to stand in for the curvy humans, replacing them with proportional stacks of boxes which would more easily explain to the younger reader how to represent the human body n space and in proportion to other things. Again like the Pelerin, I think that these were monumentally combative images showing humans in a radical, previously unknown way.
Dashing into the 19th century we find another superb image of the empty man from Etienne Marey in his photographic and moving-photographic studies of motion. This is actually a little odder, as the man in this image can be either completely empty or the convex, being completely filled up.
Marey would fit sensors at moving/jointed parts of the human body, affixed to a black-cloth-wearing experimental helper. The point was to collect simply *movement* images and not necessarily-at this point at least—the parts of the body responsible for the movement. At this time Marey was interested in the effects of motion, and used his empty man to do just that.