Today our two-dimensional world is saturated with linear perspective, whether in photographs, on television, or, indeed, in much of art. Yet linear perspective is an invention rooted solely in the Western classical tradition. Why did artists in the Near East, the Far East, Africa, and the Americas not come up with linear perspective on their own? Among the reasons is the Greeks’ conception of geometry not as rules-of-thumb, but as a logical system of proofs. They also had the unusual desire to imitate reality in their art. I am not going to discuss those issues here. Instead I focus on one of the less obvious reasons: linear perspective is an impoverished system for representing information within a single frame.
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