the 'spatial arts', which comprise two fundamental categories: 'real space' and 'virtual space'. Real space
is the space we share with other people and things, and its fundamental arts are sculpture - the art of personal space - and architecture, the art of social space. Virtual space, representing real space in two dimensions, as in paintings, drawings and prints, always entails a format in real space, thus making real space the primary category.
Using these distinctions and adopting a wide definition of art that in principle embraces anything
that is made, the author examines some of the basic characteristics of all art in a survey that traces the development of human skill from the first hominid tools to the sophisticated universal three-dimensional grid of modern technology, which he describes as
'metaoptical' space. Successive chapters deal with facture, refinement and the discovery of abstract relations; the making of places, boundaries and alignments; the creation of centres and the relations between art, order and political power; the origins of three-dimensional, planar and virtual images; planarity and the development of measures, ratios and grids; virtual images, the development of perspective and the essentially centreless metaoptical world of Western modernism.
This new conceptual framework enables us to treat all traditions on an equal footing and to understand opposition and conflict both within and between cultures. Formalism and other Western approaches to art are not rejected, but are recognised without universal validity being claimed for them.
Throughout, the author insists that art can never be separated from the primary spatial conditions of its uses. His long-awaited study will stimulate people to think in new and fruitful ways about the human purposes of art, and also to think more deeply and critically about the relations between art, political order and technology....Continua