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Historic Theoriesof Vsion During the first two centuriesofthe IslamicGoldenAge 8th-1Jth centuries , translationof ancientwritingson the scienceof opticsofferedcontemporary in- tellectualswith variousphilosophicaltheoriesof vision. Greek theorieswere largely appropdated by Islamic scholarsuntil the first quarter of the 11ihcentury,when a new method of inquiry rvasintroduced by Ibn 'scientific al-Haytham. Vith the method' he introduced to the rvodd, al-Haythanl used experimental evidence to develop a remarkably accurate theory of vision.
His design and interpretation of elegantexperimentsbecamethe root source for 'Westernunderstandingsofoptics up to the 17thcentury Lindberg, Born in Basra in , Ibn al-Haytham primarily worked in Cairo's al-Azhar Mosque - an epicenter for academic inquiry - where he wrote prolifically on subjects as diverse as poetry and politics.
He is primarily known however, for his writings on geometrical optics, astronomy, and mathematics. This seminal work initiated an unbroken chain of continuous development of the modern un- derstanding of both optics i.
From a copy othis Kitab al-Manaztui [ A. Ib n al-Haltham's Cofttibutions. Ill Frc. Prior to thework oflbn al-Ha1tham,theoriesofvisioncouldbebroadlyclas- sifiedinto oneofthree categories: extramission, intromission,or a combinationof the two. Extfamissiontheoriesrequirethat somesort of illuminatingparticlesbe emittedby the eye. Euclid and Ptolemyarewell-knownscholarsassociated with this category Linberg, Althoughthereareobviousflawswith extramrssron theories,they do get the geomery right, with a one-to-onecorrespondence be- tweenpointson the objectandpointson the eye.
Intromissiontheories,with Ar, istotleasa prominentproponent,postulatedthat objectscontinuouslysloughed off microscopically thin replicasof themselvesthat then travelledto the eyeof the observerIntromissiontheoriesavoidsomeobviousproblemsof extramission theories,suchasnearandfar objectssimultaneously beingvisiblethe momentthe eyeis opened.
A third alternative,supportedby Platoand Galen andAristode, to a lesserdegree ,combinesthe trvotheories,proposingthatlight emittedby the eyeengages in somewaywith the interveningair and aforementioned replicas,or species Lindberg,1, , ,. Like othersbefore him, Ibn al-Haltham also recognizedthat therewere problemswith all existingtheoriesof vision,but he viasuniquelysuccessful in findinga solutionthat hadeludedthe bestmindsof antiquity.
His experimentssubsequentlyverified scienti6cprinciples conmonly associated with what is known today asoptical'raytacing'. Theseex' periments included using flat and curved mirrors to control and manipulate light, but primarily involved obseruing the effect of light pouring through aperturesof varioussizesinto dalkened spaces i. Perhapsmost inrportantly, they provided him a theoreticalbasisfor the existence of rays; a theoretical construct that he used as a means for describing and inter preting the visualsystem.
These lays are subsequentlyrepresentedby geometrical lines associatedon a point by point basisu'ith an object in space. Al Haytham did get one important aspectof vision l'rong: the fact that an image projected by a lens is upside down and flipped right-toJeft apparently rvas more than he could acceptin a theory olvision, even though it is containedrvithin his optical fornalism. Leonardo da Vinci also failed to accept this when he ap proached the problem much later Kemp, Ultimately,it rvould take another live hundred yearsbefore Kepler would follow Ibn al Haytham's formalism to its inevitable and logical conclusion in developing the theory of the retir.
Smith poir. The Platonist perspectivistssupporting extromission,for exampie, suggestthat the eye has powers which extend outward as a means for engagrng reality rvhich, in a general sense,can be understood as a "r'isual finger reaching out to palpate things" Smith, , p.
Intromissiolr theories howeveq are uniquely Aristotlian. They ascribe to the idea that, "Knowledge is inductive I19 Sensation andits representations arethereforenot to be deprecated asthebearefs of falsehood Platonism but ratherto be prizedasthe bearersof tuth" Smith, ,p. Perhapspredictably,asculturalunderstandings of visionard cognitionex pandedto includethesedisparatetheories,so too did evolvingculturalconsid- erationsfof conceptsseeminglyunrelatedto the scienceof optics,the impactof whichwasnot relegatedto the sciencecommunityalonebut spreadout to include the humanitiesat large.
Smith recognizes that variationsexist amongthe Latin versionascomparedwith theArabicoriginal,not simplyin its organizarion- al sructurebut in theinterpretationof specificterms From thebeginning, however,knowledgeof the coreprinciplesand experiments detai.
The text refersto the study ofoptics andIbn al'Haythamspecifically severaltimes. It wasrequiredreadingat the Universityof P arisin ,avatlable in the universitylibraryof the Sorbonne by ,and usedwidely as referencematerialat Oxford, Cambridge,Canter- bury andMerton Collegeby the mid-fourteenthcentury Holbrook, Although today we thhk of these scholarsas optical scientists, they approachedtheir work astheologians which, in turn, influencedtheir interpretationof medievalopticaltheories.
Bacon,for example,wasa Franciscan friaq who ftansmittedhis scientificmanuscripts to the Papalcourt in semecy Smith, Pechamand rVitelo werepriestsaswell, who relied on Ibn al-Haythamin constructingtheir own evolvingopticaltheo- ries,but who alsotook libertieswith their interpretations and infusedthemwith spiritualundertones.
The natureof light, vision and cognirionare so directlylinked with onto, logicalaspectsof the humanexperiencethat they alsoappealto considerations beyondthe scientific. Popular literary examples published during this period illustrate just how widespread the interest and understanding of optics had become.
Ibn al-Hay- tham, for example, is referred to severaltimes in the epic poem Roman de la Rose lRomance of the Rose] by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, one of the most widely read works in the French languagefor yearsafter its publication in c flardi, In the text the authors descdbethe properties ofmirrors, with the text exhibiting a surprisingly non trivial understanding of optics.
Chaucer,too, was influenced by his understand- ing of the content of Ibn al Haytham'sworks on vision and optics, asis ciear from the following passage: They spokeof Alhazenand Vitello and Aristotle,rvhowrote of curious mirrorsand of perspecrive glasses, astheyknowrvhohaveheardtheirbooks.
NeCastro,, p. As Greenstein ,p. It makes useof suchfundamentalAristotelianconceptsas form, substance, accident, quaiity,individual,universal,species, andwhatness. Art and optics What influence perspectivist theories of vision had on the visual arts lead, ing up to and throughout the Renaissance,however, has yet to reach a consen- sus among scholars.
He further states, "If one can believe Rafaello Maffei, the ancient scienceof Alhazen and Vitellio now included artistic applications and was almosr identified with the fine arts" Klein, ,p. WdntzAllen superimpose perspectivist theories of vision directiy upon the development of linear perspective or visual transitions in the visual arts.
Green stein , p. There is supportfor the ideaaswell that the 'Euclideancontinuum'informedAlberti's understanding of the visualpyramid Lindberg, Kemp ,p. For example,thatAlberti is explicitabouthavingcomposed, On Paintingfor artistsanddemonstrates indifferenceto debatesaboutwhich directionvisualrays might reachthe eyeof the viewer,i. Kempt conclu- sions,however,do not wholly considerthe practicalimplicationswhich occur whenthe visualsystemis orientedandappliedto visualart practice,andpre'date the discoveries of the Hockney-Falco thesisby a decade.
Alberti wasawareof the debateborn out of the perspectivist opticaltradi tion about visualrays;awareenoughto put forth that such considerations are 'useless'for artisticpurposes Kemp, Subsequendy, Alberti focuseshis at- tention insteadon conceptsrelativeto spatialdispositionand composition,and how thesetwo principlesaretranslatedandreorientedasobjectson a two dimen- sionalpicture plane.
In short,Alberti wasthe first to interrupt in writing the visualpyramidby placingthe canvasperpendicularto the visualrays,specifically at the vertex of the pyramid. Howeveqthe latter certainlyinformed the former Arnheim,;Kemp LorenzoGhiberti'seffortsto makea contributionto the discussion aoDeara decadeor soafterOa Paintingwasfirst publishedandimmediately translaiedinto Italian. Ghiberti certainlyhad access to a 14,bcenturyItalian translationof Ibn al-Haytham,giventhat entireportionsof it areincorporatedin Book3 of his Commentari Fragenberg, ;Greenstein, ,etc.
The bookwasincomplete at the timeof Ghiberti'sdeathbut is describedby Lindberg ,p. Subsequently, by the time da Vinci v'ould consider the wotks of these same opticalscientists, he too would be forcedto reconcilefor himselfthe relationship between vision.
It is also clear that Alberti and Ghiberti's shortcomingsin affirming or denying the function ofthe visual pyramid are too laconic in the mind of da Vinci, who subse- quently embarks on an intense period of experimentation, applying a methodol ogy and conducting experiments remarkably similar to those of Ibn al-Haytham Smith, Given the progressionof eventsoutlined throughout the preceding sections it seemsunusual that an artist like Alberti was so familiar with the perspectivisr tradition, and yet so little is known about how he arrived at the principles oflinear perspective.
Nevertheless,a clear languageofvisual literacy has been established, beginning most significantly with the work of Ibn al Haytham and culn.
Conclusion Consideration of the lineage of medieval optical theories leading up to and throughout the Renaissanceis necessaryfor understanding the methodology Hockney and Falco developed,centurieslater, for analyzingwell known Europe an paintings, as well as the larger impact of the perspectivisttradition as it relates to realist image production. This methodology is one based on a framework of visual understanding, i. Smith eloquently and accuratelyiliusrates the complex relationship that ex- ists between visual literacy and reading by interpreting Ibn al Haytham: In likeningspatialperceptionto reading,Alhacenunderscores that the easewith whichu'eread'space',like the easewith whicl we readwords,masks the arduousness of acquiringthat readingskillin the6rstplace.
Readingspace, in short,is far moreintellectualthanit is tactile Smith,,p. That the mind of a painter is as intrinsically involved in the oeative process, asis his hand in creatingpaintings,makesoriginal works of art highly complex sub jects to analyze. Hockney and Falco however,demonstratedthat optical evidence existswithin the visual compositionsof certainpahtings. This evidenceis therefore subjectto visual qualitative aswell asoptical quantitative interpretation.
As a coDsequence,humans do not simultaoeouslysee part of a scene in focus and part of it out of focus. Although modeln humiurs have obscrved the effect of scenesdepictcd out of focus countlesstinres in the form of photographs,in novics, and on televisior.
IIence, a simple example of the indirect use of optics is if an artist has pair. Falco, A. Additionally, lack of detailed understanding of optics and the history of optics continues to affect interpretation of historic realist images. For example, despite documentary evidence showing that concavelensesand mirrors of high enough quality were availablein the first quarter of the 15thcentury Ilardi, , such evidencehas done little to achievewide acceptanceby historians that a con- cave mirror can, in fact, project useful imagesfor artists Campbell, Syson,Falo- mir.
Hockney and Falco'smethodology of visuallyinterpreting optics,basedim agesstipulatesthat visually evident compositional details qualify certain paintings 'photorepresentations' as composedboth by the hand and mind of the artists,but resulting from optical geometry aswell. Hockney and Falco's methodology and findings have implications for the histories of scienceand art, as u'ell as scienceand art education.
This unique ap- proach for analyzingworks of art is within the long, interdisciplinary,progression towards a new visual language;one historically informed by the scienceof medi eval optics, but put into action by visual artists during the Renaissance. Acknowledgements We gratefully acknowledge David Hockney for his invaluable insights on painting through his investigation of over years of European arr.
These in, sightsprovided the foundation for ongoing work subsequentlybeing pursuedwith Dar'ld Graves,resulting in locating documentsreiated to the eady useof optics by artists, the origin of which we have raced to the writings of Ibn al Haytham. Imaging gaceland:'lhe Hockrc1 Falu,tltesis:An artt. Br cnelles. Renalssance fate:;:YanE"lckto Tiian, exhi bition catalog. London: National Gallerv ofArt. Visualcultute:Datek'ptnents,defnitions,and directlonsfot art educatlon, Studresin Art Education,,12 2 , Eocmrou Sauurl fn.
Amira, A. Bouridane,and F. Kurugollu Ed. Ir TVleal? Sccretl:xoulctlgc:Rctliscouering the lost techniqnesof the , '? National Grllerv oI Ireland. Proceedingsof Photontcs Asia:Opticalin' strument:and imaptn! Hocrrrv D"ri,ri, Fo. BRoo ur f rr'r riqqsr.
Inrot VtNcexr l20Ai. Quon raken'ro'r a r-an. RegarJmg bf the da Vincis separation terms "DersDective inadebv nature" verses pi. ColleeeArt Association. Video Audio icon An illustration of an audio speaker. Audio Software icon An illustration of a 3. Software Images icon An illustration of two photographs. Images Donate icon An illustration of a heart shape Donate Ellipses icon An illustration of text ellipses.
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Buchwald, Isis "The authors painstakingly reconstruct the minutiae of laboratory budgets, instrument collections, and student numbers; they disentangle the intrigues of faculty appointments and the professional values those appointments reflected; they explore collegial relationships among physicists; and they document the unending campaign of scientists to wring further support for physics from often reluctant ministries.
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This book has emerged from an attempt to address the requirement of presenting the subject at the college level. This textbook includes rigorous features such as the elucidation of relevant basic principles of physics; a clear exposition of the ideas involved at an appropriate level; coverage of the physical mechanisms of non-linearity; updates on physical mechanisms and emerging photonic materials and emphasis on the experimental study of nonlinear interactions.
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Optics Light and Lasers. Introduction to Modern Optics.