Friedberg 2006

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Friedberg, Anne. The Virtual Window: From Alberti to Microsoft. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2006.


Leon Battista Alberti, 1435 treaties on painting and perspective, De pictura -- instructs painter to regard rectangular frame of painting as an open window, giving rise to single-point perspective

"Although it may seem that cinematic, televisual, and computer-based representrations continue to rely on perspectival positioning, a key component of my argument is to suggest otherwise. The complex relation between perspective and the moving image necessitates a more refined account of the viewer's position in space in relation to a fixed frame with either static, moving, multiply layered, obliquely angled, abstract, sequential, or multiple-frame images." (2)

"Perspective may have met its end on the computer desktop." (2) -- GUI where windows stack, closer to cubism than Renaissance perspective

"In this way, computer-generated virtual spaces coexist with the vernacular daily virtual spaces that we inhabit (or at least sit in front of) as viewers and users, in the same way that perspectival painting coexisted with its challengers." (3)

Aside from historical anomalies, "only in the last 2 decades -- markedly with the advent of digital imaging technologeis and new technologies of display -- diud the media 'windoww' began to include multiple perspectives within a single frame. And as a coincident development, the interface of computer display made this 'new' multiple-'window'/multiple-screen format a daily lens, a vernacular system of visuality. This remade visual vernacular requires new descriptors for its fractured, multiple, simultaneous, time-shiftable sense of space and time. Philosophies and critical theories that address the subject as a nodal point in a communicational matrix have failed to consider this importan paradigm shift in visual address." (3)

Window: "The following study examines the figure of the window as a key measure of epistemic changes in representational systems from painting to photography to moving-image media and computer display." (5)

Frame: film allowed immobile spectators to participate in mobility through frame of cinema; now computer screens are doing the same; "The frame becomes the threshold -- the liminal site -- of tensions between the immobility of a spectator/viewer/user and the mobility of images seen through the mediated 'windows' of film, television, and computer screens. But the frame also separates the materiality of spectatorial space from the virtual immateriality of spaces seen within its boundaries." (6) -- shifts in time

Screen: now on everything; "This new space of mediated vision is post-Cartesian, postperspectival, postcinematic, and posttelevisual, and yet remains within the delimited bounds of a frame and seen on a screen." (7)

Reclaiming word virtual -- not just related to digital media but entire realm of optics has always dealt with virtuality (mirrors, camera obscura, photographs); "Once the term 'virtual' is free from its enforced association with the 'digital,' it can more accurately operate as a marker of an ontological, not a media-specific, property." (11)

"For the purposes of this study, then, the term 'virtual' serves to distinguish between any representation or appearance (whether optically, technologically, or artisanally produced) that appears 'functionally or effectively but not formally' of the same materialityu as what it represents. Virtual images have a materiality and a reality but of a different kind, a second-0order materiality, liminally immaterial. The terms 'original' and 'copy' will not apply here, because the virtuality fo the image does not imply direct mimesis, but a transfer -- more like metaphor -- from one plane of meaning and appearance to another." (11)

"A crucial component of my argument -- thatthe cinematic, television, and computer screens have become substitutes for the architectural window -- relies on the virtuality of representational images. A portion of this argument is metaphoric: the window has become a metaphor for the screen. But a portion is also literal: the screen has become an actual substitute for the window." (11-12)

"The everyday frames through which we see things -- the 'material' frames of movie screens, television sets, computer screems, car windshields -- provide compelling evidence of the dominance of the frame and its visual system. A study of the frame itself ('the decisive structure of what is at stake') will tell us more than a study of the intrinsic and extrinsic meanings of what the frame contains." (13-4)

Window as visual metaphor -- frames of reference, conduit device transferring meaning from one realm to another

"In the culture of interface, we live in the realm of metaphor." (15)

window (transparent, open, umediated vision) vs. mirror (reflective, reversed, illusory, deceptive)

Computer screen as both a "page" and a "window" (19)