Christianity and Medieval Art
The word “Gothic” for art was initially used as a synonym for “Barbaric”, and was therefore used derogatory. This was a time before the perspective was discovered and the paintings seem unskillful as they fail to convay actual space which has been considered a standard for beauty in later time. However, these paintings didn’t try to simulate reality, but rather displayed something reality can’t. Christinity was deeply imbued with Neo-Platoism which meant the ideal was outside the material world.
Poeple at the time were deeply religous and God-fearing and most art where dedicated to Christianity. Secular art was rare and solely for the wealthy.
Humanism and Perspectival Art
In 1413, Brunelleschi, demonstrated the geometrical method of Perspective. This discovery became defining for what we consider Renaissance art. Panofsky argues that two concepts where necessary in order to conceive of the vanishing point: The first is the idea of the infinite, stemming form the conception of a singular, divine omnipresence. The second is the ability of doing accurate measurements which emerged within the highly mercantile contexts of Florence and Venice.
During this period a series of scientific discoveries where made which would eventually challenge the church and give rise to a new ideology: Humanism. This new ideology puts the individual in the centre, believing in the goodness inherent in humans rather than an all-powerful god.
Dataism and Panoptic Art
I believe we are currently undertaking a change in hour spatial perception similar to that of the renaissance. Yuval Noah Harrari, in his books about the past and future of humanity, argues that we are Christianity was surpassed by Humanity which in turn is being surpassed by Dataism. He describes it as an ideology in which ‘information flow’ is the new ‘supreme value’. Already we are letting algorithms make many of our decisions. The most banal example is letting Netflix decide which movie to watch.
Along with this new ideology, comes a new spatial perception I choose to call Panoptic. We are building a system where we have the ability to see everything. This is done by building a virtual 1:1 map of the world. Borges’ absurd text “On Exactitude of Science” now becomes a reality.