Devices of Wonder:
From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen
Barbara Maria Stafford and Frances Terpak
With an object list by Isotta Poggi
Getty Research Institute
416 pages, 7 x 10 inches
77 color and 68 b/w illustrations , 1 line drawing
""Full of delightful facts and unexpected connections, Devices of Wonder will help reshape the relation of art history to the history of science, the history of media, and cultural studies."
-Horst Bredekamp, author of The Lure of Antiquity and the Cult of the Machine
An inquiry into emergent medias rich lineage, Devices of Wonder explores the artful machines humans have used to augment visual perception.
The encyclopedic cabinet of curiosities serves as a model for this study of the archaic instruments lurking in state-of-the art technology. Featured in Devices of Wonder are android automata, lunar landscapes, perspective theaters, vues doptique, microscopes, magnetic games, magic lanterns, camera obscuras, boxes by Joseph Cornell, Lucas Samaras's Mirrored Room, Suzanne Anker's Zoosemiotics, Mark Tilden's UniBug 3.1, panoramic works by Jeff Wall and Giovanni Lusieri, paintings by Jean-Baptiste Chardin and Joseph Wright of Derby, projections by Diana Thater and James Turrell, and a pop-up book by Kara Walker.
Barbara Stafford's introduction weaves these fascinating artifacts into a provocative narrative analyzing the complex links between old and new media. Her wide-ranging investigation is complemented by thirty-one short essays in which Frances Terpak tracks the often surprising connections among individual items. Like the cabinet of curiosities, Devices of Wonder functions as an analogical instrument, reframing the beautiful "eye machines" that continue to mediate our encounters with the world.
This book is published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Getty from November 13, 2001, through February 6, 2002.
"A dazzlingly daunting compendium of ideas and devices from peep shows to digital projections, early automata to modern robots. This volume is a rich cabinet of ocular and philosophical curiosities."
-Ricky Jay, author of Jay's Journal of Anomalies
"Devices of Wonder opens up a historical world marked by interest in magic, fascination for marvels and monstrosities, and belief in prophecies and portents, a world with intriguing parallels with our own."
-Benjamin Woolley, author of The Queen's Conjurer and Virtual Worlds
Barbara Maria Stafford is William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. Her scholarly work crosses the domains of aesthetics, science, technology, and the fine arts. Among her recent books are Artful Science: Enlightenment, Entertainment, and the Eclipse of Visual Education (1994), Good Looking: Essays on the Virtue of Images (1996), and Visual Analogy: Consciousness as the Art of Connecting (1999).
Frances Terpak is curator of photographs at the Getty Research Institute, where she has built the photographic and optical devices collections. In addition to curating the exhibition Framing the Asian Shore: Nineteenth-Century Photographs of the Ottoman Empire held at the Getty Research Institute in 1999, she has published and lectured on French Romanesque sculpture and related topics.
Isotta Poggi is research associate at the Getty Research Institute, where she has also worked as a cataloger of the optical devices collections.
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