Mark Rosen, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, School of Arts and Humanities and Associate Professor of Visual and Performing Arts University of Texas at Dallas
The late eighteenth century witnessed the rise of the hot-air balloon as mode of transport and, perhaps more important, as an instrument of spectacle. Crowds gathered to watch aerialists embark on their journeys, which often were celebrated with retrospective prints and published narrative accounts. The balloonists of the eighteenth century were the first to achieve a true aerial prospect, but their modes of seeing were in many ways conditioned by the maps and views of preceding centuries that approximated or imagined ways of seeing from above. The tension between firsthand experience and conventional visualization can be accessed in the writings and images from the earliest balloon voyages, in which aerialists resorted to metaphors and signification drawing heavily from the language of preexisting cartography rather than accounting for the embodied viewing this newly available phenomenon afforded. The techniques and materials discussed in this talk concern both conscious and unwitting adoptions of a cartographic vocabulary to an incommensurable new experience.
This lecture is co-hosted by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Department of Art History and Art at Case Western Reserve University.