Antoine Lafréry/Bartolomeo. Faleti Disegno della Beneditione del Pontifice nella Piazza de Santo Pietro, Speculum Romanae magnificentiae
Antoine Lafréry/Bartolomeo. Faleti Disegno della Beneditione del Pontifice nella Piazza de Santo Pietro, Speculum Romanae magnificentiae

ROME | In the profoundest way, the emergence of the new interdisciplinary field of Performance Design is as old as Rome and the origin of painting itself.

In today’s fragmented, segregated and myopic view of artistic disciplines, Performance Design is viewed as some sort of subset of scenography and is often championed by scenographers and academic rebels in that field. But once upon a time, as the American Academy in Rome conference below proposes, in early modern Rome between 1300 and 1700, “scenography and pageantry apparatus were as much the domain of visual artists as painting, sculpture, and architecture.”

This makes a great deal of sense. The rise of projection and new technology in performance actually throws us back to traditional modes of painting and sculpture. For those seeking the earliest application of projection, the origins of painting serve as a kind of smoking gun.

The popularity of the image came after the Renaissance revolution in representation. Perspective, orthography, and even lenses and other optical devices were already well known, and as a result, projective methods were standard techniques in the late 18th century. The visual paradigm of translation of 3D information into 2D was well established.

The role of projection in the service of verisimilitude was a foundation for the artist’s perception. Architecture historian Robin Evans, in his essay “Translations from Drawing to Building,” for example, has noted this historical development through a comparison of paintings from the mid-to-late 18th century until the early 19th century when “the origin of painting” was still a popular genre depicted by artists under such titles as “The Origin of Painting,” “The Art of Painting” and “The Invention of Drawing.”

Robin Evans, in particular, highlights the fact that Karl Friedrich Schinkel is an architect. In Schinkel’s Origin of Painting (1830), he was the among the few of his contemporaries to depict the shadow as cast by the sun.

Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Origin of Painting, 1830
Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Origin of Painting, 1830

Prior to Schinkel, visual artists used the point of source of a lamp. Note, for example, David Allen’s Origin of Painting (1775) and Joseph Benoit Suvee’s Invention of Art of Drawing (1793).

Joseph Benoit Suvee, Invention of Art of Drawing, 1793
Joseph Benoit Suvee, Invention of Art of Drawing, 1793
David Allan, Origin of Painting, 1775
David Allan, Origin of Painting, 1775

Historian Robin Evans uses this discrepancy to explain the two major paradigms of projection: parallel (orthography) and centric projection. By changing the physical relationships between light, subject, and wall, the artist uses the converging lines to make enlargements and reductions in the scale of the image.

Meanwhile, the architect requires precision in scale for transmission of information. The sun provides this control. Whatever the position of the subject, the sun’s rays are parallel. This assures a precise same-scale reproduction when the shadow reaches its screen.

Projection spans back to our earliest times. It uses shadows and celestial objects to assist humans in the depiction and manipulation of our environment. Understanding projection chimes with understanding virtual reality, which is the ability to re-present real-world data graphically. Viewing as a paradigm needed to be established, before painting could approach sculpture as a high-fidelity projective art. –rg


Ephemeral and Permanent:
Theater, Architecture, and the Visual Arts in Early Modern Rome

October 17 – 18, 2013
The American Academy in Rome
(Ground floor lecture room)
Via Angelo Masina 5, 00153 Rome

Long before Giorgio Vasari codified the theoretical unity of the arts under the arte del disegno, working across a variety of media had been absolutely common practice for Italian artists. But how did the production of unrepeatable events and the production of physical objects inform one another?

This conference, “Ephemeral and Permanent,” focuses on the interrelations of the visual arts and the dramatic arts in Rome broadly between 1300 and 1700. In this context, scenography and pageantry apparatus were as much the domain of visual artists as painting, sculpture, and architecture.

For Brunelleschi, Raphael, and Bernini — to name but a few well-known protagonists — such ephemeral projects formed important components of their overall oeuvres.

Yet the parameters of ephemeral art differ quite significantly from those of permanent works. From the artists’ perspective,
requirements of speedy execution and collaboration challenged their production processes. Because these works were
themselves unrepeatable events, artists had to rely on literary accounts (ekphrasis) for their commemoration.

Likewise, poets and playwrights had to consider the transitory and public iteration of their texts.

With a focus on Rome and its Early Modern context, this collaborative conference aims to encourage an interdisciplinary dialogue between the history of the visual arts including architecture, and the history of theater and dramatic literature.

Bringing together leading experts in these fields, the conference seeks to incite revisions of disciplinary boundaries and to develop a more nuanced understanding of the interrelations of artistic languages.

This conference focuses on the interrelations of the visual and dramatic arts in Rome between 1300-1700. It asks how the production of texts, objects, and the built environment was shaped when the notion of the ephemeral was at play.

While centering on Rome and its Early Modern context, this collaborative conference aims to encourage an interdisciplinary
dialogue between the history of the visual arts including architecture, and the history of theater and dramatic literature.
Bringing together leading experts in these fields, the conference seeks to incite revisions of disciplinary boundaries
and to develop a more nuanced understanding of the interrelations of a variety of artistic languages.

This event is in collaboration with the Rome Art History Network. Conference organizers: Yoko Hara and Ariane Varela Braga.

CONFERENCE PROGRAM

17 October
Welcome AAR Director Christopher Celenza

18:10 – Keynote Address by Kristin Phillips-Court (University of Wisconsin Madison) “The Call to Rome and the Pride of Art”

Small reception will follow at the American Academy in Rome

18 October
[MORNING SESSION]

09:30 Martine Boiteux (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris) “Il teatro della festa a Roma nella prima età moderna”

10:00 Chiara Sbordoni (University of Leeds) “A Vernacular Renaissance of Plautus. Battista Guarino’s Comedy I Menechini: Texts and Performances”

Coffee Break

11:00 Raimondo Guarino (Università di Roma Tre)”Peruzzi e il teatro a Roma tra archeologia e commedia 1511-1531″

11:30 Yoko Hara (American Academy in Rome, University of Virginia) “La Calandria, the Perspective Stage Set, and Eloquence in the Art of Building”

Lunch 13:00-15:00

[AFTERNOON SESSION]
15:00 Claudia Conforti (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata) ” La cappellaDel Monte a San Pietro in Montorio come teatro dinastico ”

15:30 Katherine Bentz (Villa i Tatti, and Saint Anselm College) “The Pergola and the Theatricality of Sixteenth-Century Roman Gardens”

16:00 Genevieve Warwick (University of Edinburgh)”Bernini ‘s Two Theaters”

16:30 Discussion / Concluding Remarks

Check out the conference program here.

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