"The new art must be based on science" - Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
Sapling is proud to present You Are Here: Albrecht Dürer and VR Overview Effect. The exhibition places Renaissance masterpieces in conversation with a scientific digital experience. This dialogue spans centuries, exploring paradigm shifts of our perception of Earth in relation to space.
A great turning point in history, humanity shifted its self-perception in relation to the earth and the cosmos during the Renaissance. Humanist thought pivoted focus towards the individual, a fusion of science with the mystical unknown. A master of the Northern Renaissance, Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) explored and captured this shift. With unrivalled talent, he rendered observational naturalism alongside mystical apparitions with astonishing illusionism.
Created with great fidelity to nature, Dürer's prints were disseminated widely. Becoming the first travelling masterpieces, they encouraged humanity to look skyward from the early to late modern eras. The following axial point of this exhibition brings us to the images produced by astronauts during the 1960's space race. Earthrise, captured in 1968 by William Anders on the Apollo 8 mission, is one of the most influential environmental photographs ever taken. In 1969, four billion people watched the moon landings on live television, generating a global paradigm shift. Today with the space sector re-energised, we may find valuable answers in exploring what it means to look skyward and earthward.
Five centuries on, Sapling will exhibit three rare and important engravings. Melencolia I (Bartsch 74; Meder, Hollstein 75), 1514, captures the rise of modern science infused with creative anxiety. The example exhibited here is an exceptionally early, fine, and clear impression. Saint Eustace (B. 57; M., Holl. 60), c. 1501, is also an early and dramatic impression; the landscape and animals in this iconic image served as models for artists for centuries. Saint Jerome in his Study (B. 60; M., Holl. 59), 1514, captures the collision of humanist values with spiritual wonder.
VR Overview Effect is a guided meditation designed by Dr. Annahita Nezami. Simulating the experience of looking back to earth from space, it hopes to impart a fraction of the Overview Effect while standing on Earth. Nezami developed the project based on interviews with astronauts and scientists across disciplines. Astronauts reported a mental reorganisation of their perception of self in relation to the universe. Witnessing the miraculous fragility of Earth in space produced an intense emotional response of care for our planet.
Combining once cutting edge printing techniques with VR explores how technology mediates our perception of the world. What tools might Dürer have used, had he been alive today?
The project is presented in collaboration with Sotheby's Prints Department, conceived with Acting Head of Department Yessica Marks and Deputy Director Charlotte North.