This path was created by Nathaniel Isaacson.  The last update was by Kandra Polatis.

Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

The Aesthetics of Development - Landscapes

     Images like that of the Wusong railway in Dianshizhai, and this image from Wu Youru's Shanghai travelogue Shenjiang shengjing tu, the story of a man crushed to death under a train in Tianjin, and the depiction of the opening of the Mersey Tunnel all feature nearly textbook examples of linear perspective diminishing to a vanishing point by using a train and a railroad track diminishing in size as it approaches the vanishing point. The use of non-Euclidean parallel lines that meet at a vanishing point (especially for the train tracks), and rectilinear lines for objects like trains, telegraphs, and colonial-era buildings were combined with traditional Chinese landscape techniques. While histories of perspective in visual art like this one argue that "it would appear that the Chinese have never had any scientific interest in perspective or its rules and typically adopted the parallel projection when representing buildings or geometrically regular objects," Chinese artists actually adopted a wide range of techniques to create both a sense of three-dimensional space, and the "feeling" of the artist viewing the space. Horizontal scroll painters employed a rational system to create both a sense of spatial depth, and of motion through time. This can be seen in the use of convergent orthogonal lines in sub-sections of scroll paintings like Zhang Zeduan's Along the River During the Qingming Festival (清明上河圖). Illustrators like Wu Youru used many of these techniques in combination - including the flattened perspective of landscape painting printed on vertical scrolls, isometric projections where parallel lines do not meet (for example in the depiction of Chinese and Japanese-style buildings), and single or multiple vanishing points to create a sense of depth. 


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