"Devices of Wonder - From thr World in a Box to Images on a Screen" by . Stafford

Devices of Wonder - From thr World in a Box to Images on a Screen . Stafford

Paperback / softback
Publication date:
31 Mar 2006
Getty Research Institute,U.S.
416 pages: 255 x 175 x 29mm
78 colour & 77 b&w illustrations, 1 line drawing


An inquiry into emergent media's rich lineage, Devices of Wonder explores the artful machines humans have used to augment visual perception. The encyclopedic cabinet of curiosities serves as a model for this study of the archaic instruments lurking in state-of-the art technology. Featured in Devices of Wonder are android automata, lunar landscapes, perspective theaters, vues d'optique, microscopes, magnetic games, magic lanterns, camera obscuras, boxes by Joseph Cornell, Lucas Samaras's Mirrored Room, Suzanne Anker's Zoosemiotics, Mark Tilden's UniBug 3.1, panoramic works by Jeff Wall and Giovanni Lusieri, paintings by Jean-Baptiste Chardin and Joseph Wright of Derby, projections by Diana Thater and James Turrell, and a pop-up book by Kara Walker. Barbara Stafford's introduction weaves these fascinating artifacts into a provocative narrative analyzing the complex links between old and new media. Her wide-ranging investigation is complemented by thirty-one short essays in which Frances Terpak tracks the often surprising connections among individual items. Like the cabinet of curiosities, Devices of Wonder functions as an analogical instrument, reframing the beautiful "eye machines" that continue to mediate our encounters with the world. This book is published in conjunction with an exhibition at the Getty Museum from November 13, 2001, through February 6, 2002.

Barbara Stafford is William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. Her most recent publications are Visual Analogy, paperback, MIT Press, 1999; and Good Looking, paperback, MIT Press, 1998. Frances Terpak is curator of photographs at the Getty Research Institute.