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rists, historians and artists for a multi­ tude of purposes. It does, however, have a few shortcom­ ings diat detract from its mission. Many of the discussions of events and artists' work are frustratingly brief. Some sec­ tions read like lists of artists and works rather than providing insights into the nature of the artists' work. Certainly, the author must have had to make choices about relative weightings of scope and depth. In several sections, however, more depth was critically needed. For example, to his credit, Popper includes references to the last several years of Ars Electronica shows and briefly summa­ rizes their topical focuses and the work of individual artists who exhibited there. The treatment in the book, however, misses important features of these pro­ vocative events and gives the reader a shallow view of the depth of the pro­ ceedings. Unfortunately, this was true of many sections. Also, the critical perspective of the book is not clearly defined. Popper seems to be struggling with die transi­ tion from old aesthetic traditions of art talk, focused narrowly on formalistic concerns, to a more contemporary mode of analyzing art in the context of larger cultural issues. These newer ap­ proaches are desperately needed if art is going to be relevant to the momentous foment of die current technological era. Similarly, Popper does not address the perspectives of critical theory in suffi­ cient depth. Theorists such as Lyotard and Baudrillard present a dark view of the possibilities of technology's potential benefits. In several places in the book, Popper briefly considers these theorists and dien hints at a more optimistic, proactive approach being explored by some of the artists he presents. This de­ bate about possible artistic orientations toward technology and culture is a criti­ cal one tiiat is shaping the future of art, and it could have benefitted from more of Popper's commentary. HUBERT DAMISCH: THE ORIGIN OF PERSPECTIVE translated byJohn Goodman. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1994. $39.95. 477 pp. ISBN: 0-262-04139-1. Reviewed by Rudolf Arnheim, 1200Earhart Road, #537, Ann Arbor, MI 48105, U.S.A. Central perspective has been a pet project of dieoreticians because it is one of die few features of works of art that can be analyzed with measurable precision. Perspective also attracts phi­ losophers. They note that although it claims to represent reality faithfully, it distorts die physical world and its sen­ sory experience quite blatantly. Hubert Damisch is a professor of both philosophy and die history of art at die Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. As a philosopher, he deals extensively with the epistemological problems raised by perspective in the writings of Panofsky, Cassirer, MerleauPonty , Husserl and odiers. As an art his­ torian, he relates his meticulously de­ tailed discussions of particular works of art to dieir philosophical implications on almost every page of his book. Thus, for example, the mirror, which plays a central part in Brunelleschi's famous ex­ periment, haunts Damisch's thoughts diroughout because of its illusive func­ tion as a reflection of truth and a seduc­ tive deception. Brunelleschi's experiment in depict­ ing the Florence baptistery from the entrance of die Duomo, which we know of through a report by his biographer, Antonio Manetti, keeps stirring up the historians because it has never become clear whedier there is any evidence for die widely accepted belief that Brunelleschi invented central perspec­ tive by combining a mirror image of his subject with die geometrical construc­ tion of a ground plan and the projective lines of sight, or whether his much less revolutionary contraption for trac­ ing an optically projected image on a surface was blended by die chroniclers with Alberti's truly epochal geometrical construction in his treatise Delia Pittura [1]. Damisch's diorough discussion of die case is done in constant reference to the aesthetic problem of representa­ tion, its reliance on intellectual con­ cepts and intuitive perception. The book is organized around two key examples, Brunelleschi's demon­ stration and a set of three architectural vedute of the so-called Citta ideale, a strict application of the geometrical rules of central perspective to an in­ vented array of buildings...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9282
Print ISSN
0024-094X
Pages
pp. 75-76
Launched on MUSE
2017-01-04
Open Access
No
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