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Measure and Light - Essay Example

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Measure and Light

This can be enjoyed at the simplest level by anyone, even birds are mentioned, but there are also those who understand the science of music – how it works , how it constructs links , how it can be composed. He quotes St Augustine of Hippo from the fourth century C.E. in ‘De musica’1 as saying that this is the science of music, a mathematical science. Music is described as an expression of relationships, a mathematical relationship. Augustine’s claim was that number was needed to prevent chaos within the universe. Because these are mathematical concepts the same principles can be applied in the field of the visual arts. In the mediaeval period it was believed that contemplation of geometry would lead on to thoughts of the divine, pointing to what lies outside our normal fields of vision. Augustine realised that both music and architecture have this aesthetic value. Augustine was aware that architecture uses this science of number, but was aware that not every architect was necessarily aware of the rules, even though he could apply them. He considered though that there could be no building of beauty unless the rules were both applied and could be seen to have done so. The whole creative process has to be placed within a framework of mathematical rules, of harmony and proportion. The contemplation of such things were believed to lead to a revelation of God. Mention is made of wave after wave of iconoclasm which aimed to limit this aim of medieval art, but which was never able to fully suppress it. Instead as time passed new styles emerged , ever more fitted to produce the religious experience aimed for . The Wisdom of Solomon is quoted , saying of God ‘Thou hast ordered all things in measure in number and weight ,’ ( Wisdom 11 v 21),2 with the complete creation being seen a heavenly composition, but also an artistic or architectural one. As part of this the buildings were seen as being right in the will of God as they produce feelings of both awe and reverence of the divine. This, according to Curtius, was the world view of the time. They take the place in western Christianity, of the icon among Orthodox Christians, where ideas about the ultimate take the form of visual beauty. Two important strands of thought are described – the unusual version of Platonism based in Chartres, and from Clairvaux a more spiritual aspect. There was an emphasis upon mathematics and the consequences of such thinking. The word architect is discussed with its two early meanings: that of the simple mason and also the cleric in charge of a building. Then later came the idea of the architect not as a craftsman but as a scientist, a ‘theoreticus’ of his art, who quite deliberately uses scientific principles to achieve what is required. The author points how we must not impose modern ideas of what an architect is upon these medieval builders. We know value great craftsmanship, but such workers were little valued in that period, as compared with the theoreticus. Note that link with the word ‘theory ‘. These men were clerics. They did not actually create physical things, climb ladders or use building tools. That was the task of skilled craftspeople. Boethius is mentioned, with his idea that mere carrying out rules to create a work of art if akin to slavery , whereas knowledge of the science from which a work is created is like being a ...Show more


The Gothic Cathedral, Otto von Simson, 1956, Chapter 2 , Measure and Light Introduction When someone enters a Gothic cathedral the things which immediately strike them are the vastness and symmetry of the solids materials and the ways in which these interact with the play of light , especially if the building is seen at different times of day and the shadows climb and fall, revealing and concealing as they travel…
Author : terrillwill
Measure and Light essay example
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