Media Art Histories. International Conference Series on the Histories of Media Art, Science and Technology edition:5 - RENEW location:Riga date:8-11 October 2013
In this paper, I will trace the origins of cylindrical anamorphosis and analyze why, also today, it manages to weave its uncanny magic. The relationship between anamorphosis and linear perspective is considered indisputable, although it ranges from anamorphosis being a logical consequence of the rules of linear perspective to anamorphosis being a corruption of these rules. Holbein's The Ambassadors is the archetypical example of perspectival anamorphosisâwhere the distorted image can be viewed correctly from a particular vantage point. Often, anamorphosis is equated with perspectival anamorphosis, and the group of catoptric anamorphosisâwhere the reconstituted image can be seen in the reflection from a cylindrical of conical mirrorâis usually mentioned as just another type of perspectival anamorphosis.
I will argue that cylindrical anamorphosis, as one type of catoptric anamorphosis, is of a completely different order than perspectival anamorphosis for a number of reasons: its ghost-conjuring lineage from artificial magic or thaumaturgy through the phantasmagoria; its being based, not on linear perspective, but on the transformation of data from one coordinate system to another; its double visual order; its association with the Baroque.
This layering of meanings might help explain the almost natural integration of cylindrical anamorphosis in a contemporary black box media-environment with multiple projections of moving images, an environment where the phantasmagoria becomes part of a contemporary techno-aesthetics