Conversions of Relief: on the perception of depth in drawings

Difford, R.J. 2014. Conversions of Relief: on the perception of depth in drawings. Journal of Architecture. 19 (4), pp. 483-510. doi:10.1080/13602365.2014.947306

TitleConversions of Relief: on the perception of depth in drawings
AuthorsDifford, R.J.
Abstract

Of the many ways in which depth can be intimated in drawings, perspective has undoubtedly been one of the most frequently examined. But there is also an equally rich history associated with other forms of pictorial representation. Alternatives to perspective became particularly significant in the early twentieth century as artists and architects, intent on throwing off the conventions of their predecessors, looked to new ways of depicting depth. In architecture, this tendency was exemplified by Modernism’s preference for parallel projection – most notably axonometric and oblique. The use of these techniques gave architects the opportunity to convey a new and uniquely modern form of spatial expression. At once shallow and yet expansive, a key feature of these drawings was their ability to support perceptual ambiguity. This paper will consider the philosophy and science of vision, out of which these preoccupations emerged. In this context, the nineteenth-century discovery of stereopsis and the invention of the stereoscope will be used to illustrate the way in which attempts to test the limits of spatial perception led to an opening up of visual experience; and provided a definition of visual experience that could encompass the representational ambiguities later exploited by the early twentieth-century avant-garde.

Keywordsarchitectural representation; visual space perception; stereopsis; drawing
JournalJournal of Architecture
Journal citation19 (4), pp. 483-510
ISSN1360-2365
Year2014
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Accepted author manuscriptRD_ConversionsOfRelief_04c.docx
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/13602365.2014.947306
Publication dates
PublishedAug 2014

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