Drawing Machines: Image and Industry in Early America
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CitationBacon, Elizabeth. 2017. Drawing Machines: Image and Industry in Early America. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractAlthough early modern authors frequently used mechanical analogies to describe the operations of both the human mind and body, by the turn of the nineteenth century the term “mechanical” had acquired a new set of associations. Whereas pre-industrial machines had extended and amplified the forms and effects of bodily exertion, the new sources of power and principles of motion that drove industrialization cast the machine, not as an analog or extension of the body, but as its antithesis. This dissertation examines the ways in which the growing breach between bodily and industrial mechanics was bridged by an alternate form of manual labor—that is drawing. Through a series of four case studies on writing, military drawing, patents, and portraiture, the project consider the ways in which graphic practice came to replace the forms of embodied knowledge that had long governed practices of construction and manufacture. It examines the ways in which both artistic creativity and agency were reinvented through their interaction with the processes of both mechanization and industrialization, while also demonstrating the importance of the artist’s body as a continued source of productive power in a context where production was increasingly driven by machines. Bringing together objects from both the fine and the mechanical arts, the dissertation explores the interdependence of representation and industrialization as a broad cultural phenomenon, with repercussions well beyond the walls of the manufactory. The resulting account describes a vibrant visual and material culture largely overlooked by the history of American art, but essential to understanding the origins of industrial capitalism and the subsequent estrangement of body and machine that has come to define the modern industrial paradigm.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41140245
- FAS Theses and Dissertations 
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