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    Wittgenstein and Tufte on Thinking in 3D: 'Escaping Flatland'

    Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2012)

    London, UK, 10 - 12 July 2012


    Kelly Hamilton


    Before the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein became Bertrand Russell’s protégé at Cambridge, his formal education was directed towards shaping the mind of a sophisticated research engineer. The engineer’s ability to visualise inventions and solve design problems by creatively altering configurations of their elements calls for constructive, spatial, synthetic thinking. Training in engineering drawing builds visual thinking skills and teaches engineers how to represent visualised three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface. Visualisation involves seeing projective relations in the mind’s eye, which plays a critical role in the Bild theory of the Tractatus, Wittgenstein’s early philosophical classic. He asked himself ‘What is the ground of our - certainly well-founded - confidence that we shall be able to express any sense that we like in our twodimensional script?’ As Edward Tufte says, ‘Even though we navigate daily through a perceptual world of three dimensions…the world displayed on our information displays is caught up in the two dimensionality of the endless flatlands of paper and video screens…Escaping this flatland is the essential task of envisioning information.’ I will explore how Wittgenstein’s Tractatus relates to Tufte’s theories of envisioning information and could contribute to understanding the principles underlying three-dimensional visualisation.


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    EVA 2012: Electronic Visualisation and the Arts cover

    Print copies of EVA 2012
    ISBN 978-1-780171-59-3
    RRP £85

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