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Post perspectivam

Added on by Cole Pierce.
Finally, what of Alberti's window in this "postperspectival age"? Let me briefly allude to the recent technology of "digital image processing" that has almost entirely replaced conventional photography in astronomical observatories, expecially for the recording the most distant galaxies and quasars. This ability is the result of a remarkable postage-stamp-sized silicon chip known as teh CCD, or "charged-coupled device," which can be attached to a telescope to make it into a camera, and which acts like a photographic plate. Rather than being coated with light-sensitive emulsion, its surface is composed of millions of tin electronic "pixels" arranged in a rectangular grid.
Have we here the ultimate heir to Alberti's window? Just as the Renaissance artist transferred his earthly subject, square by square as seen through the gridded veil, onto his smaller-scaled picture surface, so the CCD collects cosmic light through the telescope, pixel by pixel, and then converts each photon impulse into a digitized electronic signal and sends it to a television monitor. Celestial bodies are perceived and revealed against the deep-sky background by the luminosity fluctuations and changes in brightness recorded by the individual pixel across the CCD grid. These digitized encodings can then be translated into computerized colors. Since the actual hues of the celestial subject remain invisible, however the image processor (as the CCD artist is now professionally called), even though equipped with spectrum sensors and chromatic filters, must still make decisions based on aesthetic preference just as do modern artists - or one might even say like medieval artists trying to comprehend the ineffable colors of the heavenly empryean.

The Mirror, the Window and the Telescope, How Renaissance Linear Perspective Changed Our Vision of the Universe, by Samuel Y. Edgerton (pp 171-172)

John Fowles: The Magas

Added on by Cole Pierce.
pp 237-238
 'I say you are watching a star a star and you are watching a star. It is that gentle star, white star, gentle star . . .'
  He went on talking , but all the curtness, the abruptness of his ordinary manner had disappeared. It was as if the lulling sound of the sea, the feel of the wind, the texture of my coat, and his voice dropped out of conciousness. There was a stage when I was myself looking at the star, still lying on the terrace; I mean aware of lying and watching the star, if not of anything else. 
  Then came a strange illusion; that I was not looking up, but down into space, as one looks down a well. 
  Then there was no clearly situated and environmented self; there was the star, not closer but with something of the isolation a telescope gives; not one of a pattern of stars, but itself, floating in the blue-black breath of space, in a kind of void. I remember very clearly this sense, this completely new strange perceiving of the star as a ball of white light both breeding and needing the void around it; of, in retrospect, a related sense that I was exactly the same, suspended in a dark void. I was watching the star and the star was watching me. We were poised, exactly equal weights, if one can think of awareness a a weight, held level in a balance. This seemed to endure and endure, I don't know how long, two entities equally suspended in a void, equally opposite, devoid of any meaning or feeling. There was no sensation of beauty, morality, of divinity, of physical geometry; simply the sensation of the situation. As an animal might feel. 
  Then a rise of tension. I was expecting something. The waiting was a waiting for. I did not know if it would be audible or visible, which sense. But it was trying to come, and I was trying to discover its coming. There seemed to be no more star. perhaps he had made me close my eyes. The void was all. I remember two words, Conchis must spoken them: glisten, and listen. There was the glistening, listening void; darkness and expectation. Then there came a wind on my face, a perfectly physical sensation. I tried to face it, it was fresh and warm, but suddenly realized, with an exciting shock, not at anything but the physical strangemess of it, that it was blowing on me from all directions at the same time. I raised my hand, I could feel it. The dark wind, like draught from thousands of invisible fans, blowing in on me. And again this seemed to last for a long time. 
pp 239-240

  But the fountain changed, the eddy whirled. It seemed at first to be a kind of reversion to the stage of the dark wind breathing in on me from every side, except that there was no wind, the wind had been only a metaphor, an now it was millions, trillions of such consciousnesses of being, countless nuclei of hope suspended in a vast solution of hazard, a pouring out not of photons, but noons, consciousness-of-being particles. An enormous and vertiginous sense of the innumerability of the universe; an innumerability in which transience and unchangingness seemed integral, essential and uncontradictory. I felt like a germ that had landed, like the first penicillin microbe, not only in a culture where it was totally at home, totally nourished; but in a situation in which it was infinitely significant. A condition of acute physical and intellectual pleasure, a floating suspension, a being perfectly adjusted and related; a quintessential arrival. An intercognition.