In Waking Hours. - The Courtauld Institute of Art

In Waking Hours.

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Early Modern, Film screening, Panel Discussion

In Waking Hours.

The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London

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Still from In Waking Hours [italics](2015), directed by Sarah Vanagt and Katrien Vanagt

  • Wednesday 17 February 2016
    PLEASE NOTE: This Date Has Passed
    12:00 pm - 2:00 pm

    Research Forum Seminar Room, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN

Speakers include

  • Katrien Vanagt
  • Eric Jorink

Organised by

  • Professor Joanna Woodall - The Courtauld Institute of Art

A contemporary film on 17th century vision, followed by a discussion between the co-director, Katrien Vanagt, the historian of science Eric Jorink and the art historian Joanna Woodall.

‘Enter with me into a darkened room and prepare the eye of a freshly slaughtered cow.’ In Ophthalmographia, a treatise on vision published in 1632, the Amsterdam physician Vopiscus Fortunatus Plempius sheds new light on the age-old question of how seeing works. His answer is an invitation to experiment, at home and with little effort or expense. ‘And you, standing in the darkened room, behind the eye, shall see a painting that perfectly represents all objects from the outside world.’ In the short film, In Waking Hours, the historian Katrien Vanagt becomes a present-day ‘Plempia’, meticulously carrying out the experiment in a dark kitchen in Brussels.

A showing of this award-winning film will be followed by a discussion of ways in which film can open our eyes to the implications of the experimentally-based knowledge of vision that emerged in the 17th century.

Katrien Vanagt is a historian of science. She received her doctorate for a thesis entitled ‘The Emancipation of the Eye. V.F. Plempius’s Ophthalmographia and Medical Theories of Vision’. She was granted a Postdoctoral Fellowship by the The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and has been awarded a Sarton Medal by the University of Ghent. She was involved in an experimental film project with filmmaker Sarah Vanagt by reconstructing historical experiments dealing with eyes and the camera obscura.

Eric Jorink is Teylers Professor at Leiden University and Researcher at the Huygens Institute (Royal Dutch Academy of Arts and Science) in The Hague. He is the author of Reading the Book of Nature in the Dutch Golden Age, 1575-1715 [italics]. In the academic year 2012-2013 he was Andrew W. Mellon visiting professor at the Courtauld, co-teaching with Professor Joanna Woodall the MA ‘Visualising Knowledge in the Early Modern Netherlands’.

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