Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen

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By Barbara Maria Stafford and Frances Terpak

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, and camera obscuras.

Barbara Stafford's introduction weaves these 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.

Getty Research Institute, 2001, softcover, 405 pages, color and B&W illustrations.