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Talk with Dr. Justina Spencer

Date & Time:
October 18, 2018 | 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Art Building 672
Dr. Justina Spencer is a Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Art History Department at Carleton University and a specialist in art and visual culture of the early modern period. She earned her PhD from Oxford University’s History of Art Department where she was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellow.

Monocularity on Display: Perspective Boxes in Early Modern Cabinets of Curiosity

From its inception, linear perspective has fascinated viewers with impressive feats of artifice, all of which originate in a moment of one-eyed peeping. 

This talk explores moments in the history of early modern art where vision is reduced to the monocular mode to captivating effect. A case study of five Dutch perspective boxes acquired by King Frederick III for the Royal Danish Kunstkammer showcases how monocular perspectival art forms were produced and collected as marvels that prompted viewers to consider the mathematical tricks that yielded such cunning illusions. 

Housed in the so-called “Perspective Chamber” alongside anamorphic mirrors, optical instruments, and trompe l’oeil paintings, perspective boxes were interpreted and showcased as intellectual exercises used to sharpen rhetorical acumen and the proto-scientific gaze.