“So this is the world, we say, // looking out.” A deceptively simple observation posed by the poet Wayne Dodd, leads us to reconsider the window from a twenty-first century perspective. In the first issue of 2014, Kunstlicht will examine and theorize the complex triangle in which viewer, window, and view interact. Proposals for articles can be submitted until 10 November 2013.
In the Renaissance, the window view was used to exert control over the world of representation. An imaginary window framed a scene, uniting the depicted world and the world of the viewer, according to Leone Battista Alberti in 1435. The viewer was expected to adopt the painter's authorial focal point, and in doing so, see what he saw.
The viewer again becomes part of the scene in Gustave Caillebotte's Young Man at His Window (1875), but the presence of a depicted spectator challenges the presumed position of the painter and the viewer. The depicted spectator, a young man seen from behind, stands in front of a large window with a French balcony and looks out over Paris. A row of forcefully straight facades is in line with his gaze. However, the angle from which the scene is depicted renders it impossible for the viewer to see what he sees: Baron Haussmann's sweepingly modern, new-world Paris. Unable to participate in the view, our gaze disappointedly returns to the front of the canvas and settles on the lone man's dark-clad back, which suddenly seems painfully exposed. In the midst of this frustrated dialogue a sense of detachment arises, transforming the ostensibly dominant man into an outsider.
The notion of the window as lens makes place for the notion of the window as kaleidoscope in the early twentieth century (Robert Delaunay; Henri Matisse); furthermore the window acquires a sculptural form (Marcel Duchamp; Joseph Cornell). James Turrell's 'skyspaces' deconstruct the viewer-window-view triad by presenting an aperture in the roof that appears not only to offer a view of the sky, but also to dislocate the image of the void onto an imaginary pane. The window serves a performative function. New technologies provide the window with a digital counterpart, and whereas until the start of the twentieth century a single window revealed a single image, we can say the current period is characterized by a manifold of simultaneously performing windows. Our living environment is increasingly becoming a hyperscape, but does this mean the end of perspective?
Regardless of its form, the window continues to frame ideologies and direct gazes. Kunstlicht's board of editors welcomes proposals for articles that consider the relationship between the view, the viewer and the metaphorical, physical, or digital window. Both advances to theory as well as case studies – in the fields of visual art and architecture, but also film, new media, and literature – will be considered.
Proposals (200 – 300 words) with attached résumés can be submitted until 10 November 2013 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Selected authors will be invited to write a 2,000 – 3,000-word paper (excluding notes). Papers may be written either in English or in Dutch, although we insist that native Dutch speakers write in Dutch. Authors who publish in Kunstlicht will receive three complimentary copies. Kunstlicht does not provide an author’s honorarium. Two years following publication, papers will be submitted to the freely accessible online archive.
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