WWI Photography US in London detail
WWI Photography Catalog

The Fine Print

« Strange Things in the Sky Department: Disintegratging Moon and Lunar Nuclear Alien Space Nazis | Main | Modest Expectations--Engineers Stand in the Shallow End of the Future Pool »



It is always fascinating to see your presentations of the microscopic details of engravings, as they reveal the finer aspects of creating a visual illusion. But your illustrations, especially the first one of the eye, and the astronomical diagrams, show an interesting intersection of the arts and sciences through linear perspective and projective geometry. I spent many hours studying and practicing this in art school.

One of the basic theories of linear perspective is that the drawing is a projection of a 3D scene onto a plane, and that projection implies a specific viewpoint. This was widely shown in early perspective instructional diagrams like this one:


This quickly became the scientific metaphor for vision, as in this diagram by Descartes:


These diagrams look quite similar to the astronomy diagrams that trace the rays projected from the sun. But more interestingly (to me at least) the diagrams are viewed from "God's Eye" which looks down at the astronomical objects from above.

The illustrators and engravers would have been aware of what they were doing, it is clearly demonstrated in the final illustration in your post. This is such a powerful metaphor for vision, in both science and art, that it is still common today. These diagrams constructed how we think about vision.

The comments to this entry are closed.