By David L Martin
Rembrandt's recognized portray of an anatomy lesson, the shrunken head of an Australian indigenous chief, an aerial view of Paris from a balloon: all are home windows to attraction, curiosities that light up whatever shadowy and forgotten lurking in the back of the neat facade of a rational global. In Curious Visions of Modernity, David Martin unpacks a set of artifacts from the visible and old records of modernity, discovering in every one a slippage of medical rationality--a repressed heterogeneity in the homogenized constructions of post-Enlightenment wisdom. In doing so, he exposes modernity and its visible tradition as haunted via accurately these issues that rationality sought to expunge from the "enlightened" international: appeal, magic, and wonderment. Martin strains the genealogies of what he considers 3 of the main precise and traditionally speedy fields of recent visible tradition: the gathering, the physique, and the mapping of areas. In a story corresponding to the many-drawered interest cupboards of the Renaissance instead of the locked glass situations of the trendy museum, he indicates us a global renewed during the act of amassing the wondrous and aberrant items of construction; tortured and damaged flesh emerging from the dissecting tables of anatomy theaters to stalk the discourses of clinical wisdom; and the spilling forth of a pictorializing geometry from the gilt frames of Renaissance panel work to venerate a panoptic god. Accounting for the visible disenchantment of modernity, Martin deals a curious imaginative and prescient of its reenchantment.
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49 Architecture combined the aesthetics of light and color with the theory of ideal proportion, so that every aspect of the Gothic cathedral—from the height of its vaults, the breadth of its nave, the position of its altars, windows, portals and shrines, to its very location within the surrounding landscape—conspired toward an aesthetic whole. 52 Finally, the medieval church also possessed all manner of “marvelous” artifacts dating from the biblical past, or from the realms of God’s wondrous creation: giants were mentioned in Holy Writ and their bones could often be seen decorating medieval churches, while colossal eggs, tusks, or claws brought back from the Crusades were also common.
Far from being merely the absence of modern typologies, what “enchants” a collection is actually a presence, the presence of the sacred. The Rainbow Madonna: The Transparency of Scientific Knowledge On the morning of 17 December 1996, a client at the Seminole Finance Corporation of Clearwater, Florida, noticed a strange phenomenon on the building’s façade: large panes of reflective glass had become discolored, creating a three-story-high shape that bore a striking resemblance to images of the Virgin Mary.
Funeral monuments, stained-glass windows, jubes and historiated capitals should all be added to the list, and doubtless other items too. Thus, besides being places of worship, each church also constituted a permanent exhibition of dozens of objects. This, however, is so familiar a subject that it needs no further elaboration. 31 Yet whereas Pomian’s dismissal of this task is based upon his belief that such literature is, essentially, too complete to make any novel additions or detailed finds, I am more inclined to dismiss the task as one that necessarily obfuscates our ability to see beyond the secular economies of collection.