Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Vanishing Point, 1425

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

Vanishing Point, 1425

Article excerpt

There is a way to show this after all.

Brunelleschi, unsure what to do next,

stands in the portal of the open Duomo

staring across the piazza. It's early morning,

and the sun is granting silver leaf to every edge

it finds. In one hand hangs his painting, made

for the experiment, lentil-sized hole center.

The other fist guards a lead-backed

looking glass. It flashes as it fills,

repeats the distance it meets.

The square's begun to fill

with spectators. Constant motions

cloud the view, thus he adjusts the pair

again-front of painting to front of glass-

and peers between the profiles at what results:

quick study of the Baptistry, columns and beams

on a grid. The grid, different: picture measure

with a sense of direction. The scene

pulled forward by something

too far away to name.

The artisan postulates

an advantage to maps: the mirror

informs a distant place, a building in its

sacral skins, and beyond, the deep lean of what

makes us seem so tall-that glint where lines begin

to combine. Out where the world exacts and finishes,

level with the resting eye, the hinge of symmetry

hints-bright point, a continuous departure

one cannot help but watch, addressed

by processions of arches,

humming and wide-eyed in

their regard, their spaces lidless,

granted by their frames, leading silence

gradually into the distance, gesturing to its

place. …

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