Perspective: Theories and Experiments on the “Veduta vincolata” (Restricted Sight)

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by Riccardo Migliari and Jessica Romor

Erwin Panofsky’s work on ‘Perspective as symbolic form’, has had a powerful impact not only on the art critics and therefore on the artistic-historical literature, but also on the studies that deal with the theme of perspective from the scientific point of view. The reflections stated by Panofsky in the incipit of his essay, in fact, were considered in an uncritical and superficial way to say that the perspective describes an image of the space that it represents, similar to that of the human vision only if: the eye of whoever is looking is positioned exactly in the projection centre used to generate the perspective image; the same eye remains motionless and therefore with the direction of the gaze perpendicular to the picture. This condition of observation of the perspective is known to the Italian scholars as ‘vedutavincolata ‘. Recent studies have proved, theoretically and experimentally, that, on the contrary: the eye of whoever is looking at a perspective can move in an area around a projection centre without causing a collapse of the perspective illusion, or better, of the sense of visual depth evoked by the perspective; the eye of whoever is looking can freely move around, in every possible direction, without compromising the effects of the perspective. These studies are expounded in this paper, first of all describing the theories and the experimentations that have given the above mentioned results. Secondly, it describes the verifications carried out on important perspectives painted on walls and entire rooms, in which the conditions of one single projection centre are respected. It also describes other works, in which appropriate solutions permit to dilate the area of the vedutavincolata. Finally, in a quick re-reading of the first pages of Panofsky’s essay, this paper aims at an interpretation of it, which attempt to overcome the conflict between the advocates and the detractors of perspective as legitimate form.

16TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON GEOMETRY AND GRAPHICS©2014 ISGG

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Scientific representation: research and teaching

This essay discusses the importance of didactics and the textbooks that represent the educational tool of it, being these an activity that is capable to integrate the results of research into the body of the Science to which they belong. The textbook, in fact, unrolls the leading thread of History while essays, articles and conference proceedings only shed light on a short stretch of that historical line. The essay also examines the possible criteria that permit to distinguish between a commercial publication and innovative works, which deserve no less attention than the results of scientific studies, transmitted in the manners that are exclusive of the academic communication.

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In praise of theory

by Riccardo Migliari

The disciplines of the field of Representation have a great quality which becomes a fault, and namely: they are shared. The teacher in architectural design draws and represents, where by the first term I refer to the invention drawing and by the second to the coded geometric model. So does the teacher in architectural survey, indeed, he does not only create projects, he also surveys. And so on, I could mention almost all the disciplines that form an architect, except for, maybe, the mathematics.

This characteristic of our science could lead to a great advantage: the possibility to easily interact with any other field of study of engineering and of architecture, in order to develop interdisciplinary research. But this opportunity is not well utilised, because of a fault, which is what could be called ‘the other side of the coin’. This fault consists in a widespread prejudice which says that the disciplines of the field of representation, exactly because they are shared, are also within reach of those who practise the disciplines without better studying them, relying only on the knowledge gained during the formative studies.

If to this prejudice we add the bad habit of not collecting information on the results obtained during the researches carried out by other research units, maybe in the room next to ours, then we have completed the picture of a hidden underestimation of our scientific and didactic contribution within the field of the respective schools.

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