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Ambiguity and the development of Linear Perspective

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Richard Talbot


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This paper is included in an edition of this drawing journal dedicated to the issue of Ambiguity. It forms part of a larger discussion on my part about the history, nature and development of Linear Perspective. In so many ways this is well trodden territory, but when I read much of what is written about perspective, I find myself not recognising what is being described. Most of the discomfort comes from fact that as a practising artist using perspective I have come to question the commonly held notion of linear perspective being a device or a ‘tool’. To me it seems more like a go-between – a ‘medium’. My practise uses the geometry of linear perspective extensively, but it also uses and relies on the constant interplay between the diagrammatic and the spatial aspects of a perspective construction. I am responding in various ways to the physical marks on the surface as well as to the space those same marks may be linked to. My experience also tells me that, although the commonly held belief and assumption is that linear perspective is to do with the problems of describing depth, and quite often deep space, it is in fact as much to do with surface as it is to do with depth, and possibly more to do with shallow space than deep space. Perspective is an entity that for me enables creative thought and I believe that this stems from an essential ambiguity in its nature.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Talbot R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Tracey: Contemporary Drawing Research

Year: 2006

Pages: [13]

Print publication date: 01/09/2006

ISSN (electronic): 1742-3570

Publisher: School of Art and Design, Loughborough University


Notes: This edition also includes papers from Paul Gough, UWE; Steve Garner, OU, and John Willats author of 'Perspective and other Drawing Systems' and 'Art and Representation: New Principles in the Analysis of Pictures' Princeton University Press.