The Global Renaissance

The Global Renaissance section in the very short introduction book is similar to the humanist section as it gives an excellent starting point to research these topics in greater detail and has also provided me with several points which I can relate back to the Digital Renaissance idea. Two paintings that I have included in previous posts are analysed in relation to the idea of the global renaissance, Hans Holbein’s ‘The Ambassadors’ and Gentile and Giovanni Bellini’s ‘St. Mark preaching in Alexandria’. In both examples Brotton discusses the attributes of the works that support the theory that the renaissance was not simply a European, but a global development.

In ‘The Ambassadors’, situated over the top half of the table underneath numerous things is a rug of eastern design, objects such as globes and a merchant arithmetic book suggest that these ‘renaissance men’ had a broader understanding of the world and trade outside of Europe, or at least were attempting to achieve this. Travel, discovery and trade, all symbolised in this image were important factors of the renaissance and all of them, in some respect, touched by cultures out with European influences.

In the Bellini’s work the idea of a multi cultural society is suggested. The story of St.Mark dates back to the 1st century A.D. however has been reworked by the Bellinis into a modern setting for the time. Renaissance artists often reworked old stories and myths into their own contexts, which Brotton describes as them “dressing the contemporary world up with clothes from the past as a way of understanding the present.” If we look at this painting with that in mind we could say that this scene may have been common place in market places throughout the renaissance world. It depicts a multi religious, multi cultural marketplace that represents a broad scope of peoples including Venetian noblemen, Egyptians, Moors, Ottomans and Persians. The architecture of the scene is also mentioned; during the renaissance many cultures appropriated and reworked styles from each other and incorporated them into their own art and architecture. A key example that Brotton describes is that of Michelangelo, who whilst designing the domes for St.Peters, was influenced by Eastern architecture, in particular palaces and mosques.

When comparing St.Mark preaching in Alexandria and The Ambassadors, the concepts of trade becomes important, the former depicting the marketplace with the latter, the merchants books and goods from the market. The value of trade from the East within Europe can be witnessed by the fact that foreign goods were seen as luxurious and highly sought after. I have not research this that much but will keep going with it.

With these points, I think there are a few similarities which I can relate back to the Digital Renaissance. The issues I have highlighted, in particular multi culturalism, I feel are highly important topics within contemporary society which I will continue to build upon within my own project as my research continues.


Renaissance Humanism

The concepts of renaissance humanism were developed by many figures in various directions with a core set of characteristics that featured throughout. Most notably the advancement of the individual was encouraged, through methods such as the studying of classical greek and roman texts, as well as vigorous training in languages, oratory and writing. As noted previously, many humanists worked on behalf of religious organisations such as Leonardo da Vinci and George of Trebizond, although some rejected the notions of spiritual and divine matters which make up characteristics  of modern humanism.

The understanding of the self and of our place in the world promoted by humanism was strongly supported by greek philosophers such as Plato and Artistole, as well as Romans such as Cicero, this aspects relates to point 3 of my diagram – the revival of classic texts. The general term for this kind of education was called the studia humantis. Many tried to reconcile these classical ideals with Christianity as Brotton describes however a sort of individualism developed with the techniques of humanism serving as the tools for people to be “able to reflect on the moral and ethical problems that the individual faced in relation to his/her social world.”

The printing press also served as a vital tool in the spread of renaissance humanism, with the ability to mass produce books with ease, the humanists ideology could be distributed to a wide audience easily. This created a revolution with more people reading and writing, Brotton describes this:

At the beginning of the 15th century, literacy and books were the preserve of the tiny, international elite focussed on urban centres like Constantinople, Baghdad, Rome and Venice. By the end of the 16th century humanism and the printing press had created a revolution in both elite and popular apprehensions of reading, writing, and the status of knowledge, transmitted via the printed book.

I think that at this early stage of my research a better understanding of classical texts would aid my understanding of renaissance humanism which I will continue to build on, however there are a few similarities of things which I think are relevant to contemporary society. The first issue is the development of the individual and the ability to “to reflect on the moral and ethical problems” that are present in todays world. As we progress into the 21st century, the whole idea of the individual and identity are big issues, this can be witnessed in both cultural and social issues ranging from race and religion to sexuality and personal interests. The increasingly diverse and multi cultural world which we are living in is adapting to new identities as people are developing with the conditions of the modern society.

The internet could also be viewed as the 20th and 21st century printing press. In a similar way to the printing press in creating a “revolution in both elite and popular apprehensions of reading, writing and the status of knowledge”, so too the internet has provided a vast and global digital network where knowledge and information can be shared and distributed all over the planet, in multiple languages, almost instantly. Libraries and books have almost been replaced by websites such as Google and Wikipedia when people are looking to find information easily and fast. The ‘status of knowledge’ in todays world could be argued as being of a higher standard as a cause of this. The ideas of the individual and identity are also present when discussing the internet, with the ability to join social media networks, virtual worlds and communities, the internet has created the platform for us to develop multi layered identities, separate in some case cases, of our physical selves. The internet also allows us to research topics or join communities that we may not have had access to if the internet did exist, further developing and complicating our individual identities.

Project Development

This diamond diagram serves as a development in the ideas for my project, I feel since writing the first proposal that my thinking has become a lot more focussed coming from the combination of intensive reading and by looking through the blog to get a clearer view of the things that I am really interested in. I have explained my idea of the Digital Renaissance project previously, and stated that I intended to research the initial Renaissance in the hope that I could built connections and similarities with contemporary society and from this developing a body of ideas and inevitably some artworks.

To be critical of myself, I feel that some of the points I was making about what I wanted to explore in my first proposal draft were quite vague, yet despite of this I think I knew the direction in which I wanted to go but didn’t know enough about the subject to be precise about what it is I wanted to achieve. Also from reading through books about the Renaissance there is still a lot I haven’t read so further on down the line I may say the same thing about this post.

These were the points I made about the areas which I wanted to explore:

  • To explore the use and development of perspective in art works and how this theory was developed by Renaissance thinkers and artists.
  • How people and events of the time were documented, what was important to artists of the Renaissance? Are their similarities with contemporary art practice?
  • How the use of perspective and art as documentation can be manipulated with the use of digital technologies. Also the ways in which documentation is carried in the 21st century taking into account things like the internet, cameras, phones etc. The ability to document events in real time.
  • How the development of these technologies, not exclusively in artistic fields, have changed our understanding of ourselves and and our surroundings to build the theory that we are going through a development stage that can be compared to that of the Renaissance.

To a certain extent these points are still quite relevant, however I feel I have developed better trains of thought that include other ideas as well as these ones. In the diagram above I have labelled points 1 and 2 as nearer the centre of the shape to signify their importance in my project, or moreover their importance to the Renaissance and they are also ideas that I can see as important developing issues in todays world. Points 3 and 4 are still important issues in relation to the Renaissance in a more artistic sense, and I am quite interested in researching these further into the artistic practices of this time, where as 1 and 2 focus on society as a whole.

Will update with more info on each section

Progression with Digital Renaissance

The term itself meaning ‘re-birth’ seems a fitting title for the artwork being created in the 21st century; the rise of digital technology has caused the world to go through major transformations, a whole new world when compared to say the 19th century or even the early 20th century. The speed of technological development at points seems to be an unconscious progression, new gadgets and devices are constantly streaming onto the market that we hardly have time to realise their importance before they are upgraded and considered old and dated. The world just now is going through a digital rebirth as we constantly rely on technologies functioning in order to keep everything running smoothly, to communicate and increasingly to buy and share with each other.

The Digital Renaissance however, unlike its predecessors, exists globally and not within a certain location. Like the old Renaissance painters developing perspective and other issues within painting sculpture etc. I see a comparison with the artists of the 21st century created a new ‘perspective’ of things with the use of digital technologies. It also continues to be a fluid and ever changing re birth of art into the digital era as a result of the rapid development of technology, meaning that there are no distinct characteristics as yet of what digital artworks look like.

It’s something I need to think about more but these are my initial thoughts on the Digital Renaissance

Above was my post “My idea of the Digital Renaissance” where i tried to write down some of the comparisons I was developing between the Italian Renaissance and contemporary society. Since then I have read a number of things online including articles based around the introduction of printing techniques into society at that time; the ideas of Plato and other greek and ancient texts became popular as the Renaissance grew, this could be in part to the fact that printing became more widely used, providing literature for everyone living in Renaissance times as opposed to books mainly being owned by the rich and instituions like the church. With this access to literature a gradual shift in the attitude of the general public could be argued to have occurred, I’m not suggesting that people around that time were stupid in any way, but a broader awareness of other ideas, concepts and knowledge of a wide range of subjects would have grown as more people read and had access to books.

The rediscovery of ancient texts and the invention of printing democratized learning and allowed a faster propagation of ideas. (i’ll get quote info when wikipedia comes out this blackout.)

If we look at the world in the 21st century, the wide spread use of the computer and the creation of the Internet draws parallels with the Renaissance printers. With the access to vast amount of knowledge on almost every subject at the click of a button, an increased awareness of our world and the cultures and things that exist within it has grown. Each person has the ability to research subjects and learn so long as there is an internet connection, making the screen of the computer a far more advanced and complex digital book. There is also the ability to interact and learn from the direct experiences of other through blogs and how-to websites etc. providing that additional element that not only is the internet one big book, but also has the ability to teach.

Proposal development ideas

Some thought for my proposal.

I can always remember painting and drawing from when I was young and was more drawn to older classical paintings  and sculpture as opposed to modern works of art, although I did quite like the abstract expressionists. This has changed now as I have grown older but this idea of exploring the older classical works has been growing on me as this MA has developed; since writing my initial proposal in which i attempted to explain (badly) that I was interested in examining how the body has been used in the creation of artworks, I feel that I have drifted away from this original idea. However from doing research into possible directions in which I could take this topic I have found myself trawling through image after image on the internet and books of oil paintings and marble sculptures, reading about art movements and artists from the past and beginning to think in more detail into the context in which these people lived and how these works were created.

In particular, but not exclusively, I have been drawn to the works from the Italian Renaissance and have been doing a bit of research into the circumstances and changes within art and culture that I have been comparing to our society today. These comparisons, which I haven’t spoke too much about on here but should really create some posts about, have became the basis of my idea called the Digital Renaissance (also the title of my 4th year degree show).

Looking through the things I ave been posting over the past couple of months, I feel that I have been drawn to more 2 dimensional or image based works as opposed to conceptual projects. Although I would never rule out the possibility of undertaking conceptual projects I think that by continuing to research and experiment with digital software like photoshop in the creation of images would be ideal and smartest place for me to continue with, as opposed to thinking about loads of different things at the same time.