Anne Friedberg

The Virtual Window - From Alberti to Microsoft

Vortrag im Rahmen der Konferenz "Frames of Viewing"

Anne Friedberg

Anne Friedberg

Media Files


From the mid 15th century writings of Leon Battista Alberti to the late 20th century computer software trademarked by Microsoft as "Windows", the window has a deep cultural history as an architectural and figurative trope for the framing and mediating of the pictorial image. While the window functioned as a metaphor for a fixed viewpoint through a single frame for Alberti, the "Windows" trope in computer software has become emblematic of the collapse of the single viewpoint, relying on the model of a window that we can't see through; multiple windows that overlap, obscure.

This paper will 1) debate with accounts of the ruptures (the argument of Jonathan Crary) and/or continuities (the argument of "apparatus" film theorists Jean Louis Baudry and Stephen Heath) between Renaissance perspective and the photographic and cinematic camera and 2) argue that while moving image technologies may have provided a challenge to Quattrocento perspective and its concomitant symbolic system by offering multiple perspectives sequentially, it has only been with the advent of digital imaging technologies and new technologies of display in the 1990s that the media "window" began to include multiple perspectives within a single frame.

Artists / Authors



Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles und Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.


Haus der Kulturen der Welt, John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10, 10557 Berlin, Germany




, May 22, 2003



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