Matthew C. HunterMar 23, 2014
Visual Art and the Science of Experiment in Restoration London
University of Chicago Press 2013
The pages of Matthew C. Hunter's wonderful new book are full of paper fish, comets, sleepy-eyed gazes, drunk ants, and a cast full of fascinating (and sometimes hilarious) members of the experimental community of Restoration London. Wicked Intelligence: Visual Art and the Science of Experiment in Restoration London (University of Chicago Press, 2013) maps the visual traces of drawing, collecting, and building practices between 1650 and 1720 to narrate the emergence of a particular kind of intelligence that was formed by visualization techniques. Hunter's book pays close attention to the work of Robert Hooke while situating Hooke within a community of painters, architects, writers, customs brokers, telescope makers, and other fashioners of early modern experiments of all sorts. A significant contribution to both the histories of science and of art, Wicked Intelligence pays equal attention to the flat spaces of the imaged page and the built spaces of the museum, the city, and the "laboratory of the mind." It is a beautifully written book based on a gorgeously weird archive. Enjoy!