The perspectival projection was the first geometrically accurate way of representing three-dimensional space on a two dimensional plane. The fundamental rule of the perspective is the vanishing point. All parallel lines converge in a point infinitely far in the distance. As objects recedes towards the vanishing point, their magnitude is exponentially decreasing. On other words, an objects magnitude displays its position in space.
Pre-perspectival art or medieval art didn’t abide by these optic rules which opened up for other possibilities. An artist working in perspective had to carefully choose a point of view and the objects position. Free of these constraints, an artist could instead express symbolic significance by simply increasing the magnitude of the object, the break with realism underlining the effect.
Google’s revolutionizing search algorithm, Pagerank, works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is. The underlying assumption is that more important websites are likely to receive more links from other websites. The first link Google displays is comparable to the biggest object in a painting. Similar to in medieval painting, the selection is based on significance rather than spatial position.
The Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Giotto displays the house where Mary was born. The house has one room, barely big enough for the bed. One of the walls is missing, allowing us to see the scene inside. It may be interpreted as a section, but as the sectional cut is rendered like the rest of the house it appears like the inside is open to the elements. Giotto is treating the interior and the exterior as the same. Projections that allow for sectional cuts like this, disregards what we today consider privacy. At the time, most families were sleeping in the same room with family members even sharing beds. Centuries later, every family member not only has his own room, but often the ability to lock it.
The humanists concern for the individual included the right of privacy. Yet, today we are giving up consciously sharing private events on social media and more perilously handing over our personal data to the Tech Giants, feeding their one to one map. Those who live in big cities have also grown accustomed to being constantly under surveillances from the countless CCTV cameras that dot the map.
Our perspectival eyesight is supplemented by cameras. As I’m writing this, I am being stared at by my web camera. Any hacker can easily access it and in so doing, he achieves what Giotto did in his painting.