Title

Gutenberg-Michelangelo-Bach: The Effect of Print Technology on Visual Art and Music, 1400-1800

Presenter Information

Matthew Armbrust

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC Room 201

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

print, art, spectacle

Abstract

In his landmark 1962 publication, The Gutenberg Galaxy, Marshall McLuhan argues that the Gutenberg press created a visual bias with regard to information distribution. That is, information dissemination became dominated by written transmission rather than aural transmission. He further posits that this changed Western culture's approach to the visual arts. This paper identifies a concrete pattern to this approach specific to the production of visual art and music in the period between 1400 and 1800. Specific case studies will show how the nature of form and content change congruously in visual art and music. This paper will consider the Sistine Chapel ceiling as an example of a synthesis of a visual approach and an aural approach within one work; one that displays hallmarks of earlier church narrative while increasing the use of depiction of common individuals, similar to Martin Luther's introduction of drinking-song tunes to the hymnal. This paper will also examine music to clarify how the visual bias of print culture effected compositional practice. By considering the work of Josquin De Prez, H.I.F. Biber, and J.S. Bach, my study makes clear that performance becomes less sympathetic to audience as visual bias becomes stronger. This paper concludes that print culture increases the importance of individual authorship and this not only desacralizes expression, it creates the need for spectacle in art and music to trap the attention of an audience that had previously been participants in, not spectators of, the theaters of visual art and music.

For his work on this project, Matthew Armbrust was nominated for the SOURCE 2014 Scholar of the Year Award.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Avitts, Ellen

Additional Mentoring Department

Art

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May 15th, 3:00 PM May 15th, 3:20 PM

Gutenberg-Michelangelo-Bach: The Effect of Print Technology on Visual Art and Music, 1400-1800

SURC Room 201

In his landmark 1962 publication, The Gutenberg Galaxy, Marshall McLuhan argues that the Gutenberg press created a visual bias with regard to information distribution. That is, information dissemination became dominated by written transmission rather than aural transmission. He further posits that this changed Western culture's approach to the visual arts. This paper identifies a concrete pattern to this approach specific to the production of visual art and music in the period between 1400 and 1800. Specific case studies will show how the nature of form and content change congruously in visual art and music. This paper will consider the Sistine Chapel ceiling as an example of a synthesis of a visual approach and an aural approach within one work; one that displays hallmarks of earlier church narrative while increasing the use of depiction of common individuals, similar to Martin Luther's introduction of drinking-song tunes to the hymnal. This paper will also examine music to clarify how the visual bias of print culture effected compositional practice. By considering the work of Josquin De Prez, H.I.F. Biber, and J.S. Bach, my study makes clear that performance becomes less sympathetic to audience as visual bias becomes stronger. This paper concludes that print culture increases the importance of individual authorship and this not only desacralizes expression, it creates the need for spectacle in art and music to trap the attention of an audience that had previously been participants in, not spectators of, the theaters of visual art and music.

For his work on this project, Matthew Armbrust was nominated for the SOURCE 2014 Scholar of the Year Award.