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Overall, by historicising vision in this way, it is possible to understand the ways in which sixteenth-century visual epistemology was ambivalent and contested, despite the rhetoric of geometric omniscience. One fascinating example of this ambiguous perspective is the metaphor of the theatre, prominent in European atlases at the end of the sixteenth century and beginning of the seventeenth (Blair, 1997: 153). Two examples of this are Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), and John Speed's The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine (1610). By presenting the map as a 'theatre of the world', these early modern cartographers employed a metaphor that symbolised the dual nature of reality. As an architectural emblem, the playhouse embodies the principle of replication, with the stage as a separate and independent space within the larger circle of the auditorium; this duality distinguishes the mimetic dimension of drama as an image of life (van den Berg, 1985: 45; Daniels and Cosgrove, 1993). Thus, the map as a theatre represented a self-declared imitation of reality to the sixteenth-century viewer. With cartography, as with the playhouse, the observer turned away from cosmos itself in order to contemplate its theatrical image, 'held apart from its referents in the outer world' and placed within the 'heterocosm of imagination' (van den Berg, 1985: 52). This contrasts with the modern, scientific conception of the map as an objective 'mirror' or 'window' on the world. An effective visual example of this perspective is given by the frontispiece to Mercator's atlas of 1595, which depicts Atlas as a map-maker, inscribing the features of the earth on a blank globe while he looks down on the world itself, set at his feet. While this depiction exhibits the sense of epistemological scope that the geometric rationalisation of maps brought to early modern cartography, it also shows an awareness of the abstraction from reality that the map-making process inherently involves. Maps, it may therefore be argued, signified to the sixteenth-century observer a more explicitly metaphorical and representational abstraction from the reality of the earth; the metaphor of the theatre provides an insight into this conception, albeit one that needs further research.

Art and Cartography: Six Historical Essays. David …

Get this from a library! Art and cartography : six historical essays. [David Woodward;]

Art and cartography: six historical essays

David Woodward, ed. Art & Cartography: Six Historical Essays (1987)
From the 6th series, October-November 1980
A revealing selection of approaches to the study of the historical links between art and cartography.

Art and cartography: six historical essays By David …

Edgerton, S. (1987), 'From Mental Matrix to Mappamundi to Christian Empire: The Heritage of Ptolemaic Cartography in the Renaissance', in Woodward, D. (ed.), Art and Cartography: six historical essays, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 10–50

*Alpers S. 1987. “The mapping impulse in Dutch art”, In D. Woodward (ed.) Art and cartography. Six historical essays, Chicago, 51-96.
Woodward, D. 1987.

Art and Cartography: Six Historical Essays.

By viewing the Universalis Cosmographia, I was offered an insight into a sixteenth-century world, the cartographic text pertaining to a 'different visual and intellectual – perhaps even impenetrable – universe' (Jacob, 2009: 184). Yet, in historicising the vision of the past, we must always be aware of the intellectual context of our own perspective; as one scholar writes, the history of maps can 'never be thought outside of the horizon of our own historicity' (Padrón, 2004: 52). As such, the developments of digital mapping and the shift in our perspective regarding the function and meaning of maps should be interrogated, not as a technological breakthrough that offers a transhistorical viewpoint, but as an abstraction from reality deeply shaped by the scientific epistemological structures of the Information Age. Even the approach of the present work is shaped by the historicity of my own perspective as the product of a postmodern episteme that problematises the accessibility of 'objective truth' and embraces pluralism. This in itself might be suggested as the product of a neoliberal globalism that has influenced both political and philosophical perspectives. Thus, my viewpoint on historical maps is as much limited by my intellectual worldview as the far clearer boundaries that shaped medieval or Renaissance maps. While there is no clear solution for this historiographical problem, the first step is necessarily awareness. Historians must therefore look down on our own viewpoint in the way that, during centuries of cartography, the observer has looked down on the map.

Buy Art and Cartography: Six Historical Essays (The Kenneth Nebenzahl Jr

Art and Cartography: Six Historical Essays ..

This collection of pioneering essays, based on the 1980 Nebenzahl Lectures, addressed a topic long of interest to academic cartographers—the (Begin Page 16) interconnections between maps and art—without depending on the traditional historical model in which the art of maps progressively gives way to the science of maps. The six essays variously address the permutations of maps as art, maps in art, art as maps, and art in maps. Of special note are the papers by Samuel Edgerton and Svetlana Alpers (also published in her [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983]) which proposed (conflicting) understandings of the relationship between perspective and mapping in Renaissance Italy and Low Countries.

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