UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Impressions of the grid : veil, velo, and the printed image in early modern Europe Kling, Lucas


Shortly after the initial experiments in linear perspective began during the early fifteenth century so too did the printed image begin to assert itself with increasing prevalence. As a purely linear medium, and with the presence of crosshatching, printed images visualize the grid in ways unlike that of painting. The grid is often presented within these images wholly and integral, as that which is not only responsible for mapping space but also for making space. However, the grid also seems to appear at its most salient precisely in the places within the image where it seeks to conceal or naturalize its presence; places such as shadows, empty walls, or between pleats of fabric. From the outset it was Alberti’s intention that his velo, a perspectival tool comprised of a gridded net-work of threads reticulated inside an empty frame, transcend its materiality to reach the level of internalization in its users. This would assist in the development of an intuitive sense of proportion and perspective – as a tool to alter the individual’s perception of the world and therefore change the way it was represented. Similarly, theorists of the printed image have commented on its ability to materialize perceptual processes, to transmit information through the process of impression. By examining Alberti’s velo alongside the theme of the Veil of Veronica as it appears in the printed image, my thesis will consider the notion of reproducibility as it relates to both the iterability of the homogenizing system of linear perspective as well as the replication and dissemination of printed images in order to point to the pervasive power of the grid as a form which infiltrates the image in early modern Western Europe and acts as a structural paradigm of modernity.

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