Irregular Bodies: Polyhedral Geometry and Material Culture in Early Modern Germany
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CitationAndrews, Noam. 2016. Irregular Bodies: Polyhedral Geometry and Material Culture in Early Modern Germany. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThe dissertation explores the centrality of the Platonic Solids, and polyhedral geometry generally, to the artistic and mixed-mathematical cultures of Renaissance Germany. Beginning with Albrecht Dürer’s groundbreaking treatise on geometry, the Underweyung der Messung (1525), the dissertation redefines sites of early modern experimentation to include the graphical spaces in which new geometrical knowledge was practiced, invented, contested, manipulated, discarded, and presented. The research describes the historical contexts and development of the practice of polyhedral geometry over the course of the 16th century, expanding from Dürer to the lesser-known textbooks for practical geometry that his work inspired in Germany, and continuing with epitomes of the polyhedral genre, namely Wenzel Jamnitzer’s Perspectiva corporum regularium (1568) and the drawings of the Augsburg artisan Lorentz Stöer. The dissertation then follows the migration of polyhedra into intarsia and turned-ivory artifacts used for teaching applied geometry to European aristocracy, and concludes by addressing the polyhedral cosmology of the astronomer Johannes Kepler. By tracing the lifespan of polyhedra from their use as perspectival tools and pedagogical devices in Renaissance workshops into courtly Kunstkammern and onto the precious surfaces of domestic objects, the dissertation uncovers the influence that the decorative arts had on the conceptualization of geometrical knowledge and its new engagement with materials and concepts of materiality.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493270
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