The project has been closedin 2008. In case of technical anomalies, please contact: itgroup@mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de.


Drawing with Optical Instruments -

Devices and Concepts of Visuality and Representation


The long-term objective of this Open Digital Library is to set up a corpus of descriptions, opinions and notions related to theory and practice of the use of optical instruments for the sake of depiction in Art and Science. Furthermore, it intends to make available a set of illustrations of the optical drawing devices themselves as well as of the visual products resulting from their use.

The principal goal is to facilitate analytical comparison and to offer a key to the multiplicity of the users' scopes, intentions and motivations, allowing to explore the conceptual premises leading artists and scientists to "arm their eyes" for drawing in different historical, aesthetic and epistemological contexts.

The idea of this open digital library originated in a research context focussing on the experience of Nature in the early 19th century that explores possible mutual relationships between aesthetic and epistemic notion of vision, cognition and experience as to their meaning for the observation of natural phenomena and the practices of its representation.

Put in train on that ground with typical 19th-century drawing devices and application fields,the data collection gradually extended to other contrivances that are representative for modes of vision and representation in a much broader time span, tracing back to the 16th century. Additionally, several 20th century and current practices have been taken into account along with their discussions.