The Claude Glass

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-04-30
  • Publisher: Zone Books
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In this first full-length study of a largely forgotten optical device from the eighteenth century, Arnaud Maillet reconfigures our historical understanding of visual experience and meaning in relation to notions of opacity, transparency, and imagination. Many are familiar with the Claude glass as a small black convex mirror used by artists and spectators of landscape to reflect a view and make tonal values and areas of light and shade visible. In a groundbreaking account, Maillet goes well beyond this particular function of the glass and situates it within a richer archaeology of Western thought, exploring the uncertainties and anxieties about mirrors, reflections, and their potential distortions. He takes us from the magical and occult background of the "black mirror," through a full evaluation of its importance in the age of the picturesque, to its persistence in a range of technological and representational practices, including photography, film, and contemporary art. The Claude Glassis a lasting contribution to the history of Western visual culture.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. 9
Definitions: Characteristics and Aspectsp. 15
Problems of Namingp. 27
Problems of Historical Sources: The Disappearing Mirrorp. 37
A Suspicious Mirror
Demoniac Mirrorsp. 47
Catoptromancyp. 57
Magnetism, Hypnotismp. 61
Disquietp. 67
Fascinationp. 77
A Reductive Mirror
Regarding the Eye and the Visual Fieldp. 85
A Reductive Mirror: Regarding Tonalityp. 103
A Seductive and Deceptive Mirror
An Idealizing Mirrorp. 137
Limits on the Use of the Claude Mirrorp. 147
Toward Deception and Beyondp. 167
A Devaluing Mirror
Devaluationp. 187
Abstraction(s)p. 203
An Irremediable Lossp. 211
Notesp. 223
Indexp. 289
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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