The virtual city: perspectives on the dystopic cybercity
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3D computer modelling is increasingly relied upon as a decision-making tool in the visualisation of urban infrastructure by architects, planners, and developers. 3D computer-generated geometry relies on perspective and its derivatives, isometry and axonometry, to provide the illusion of spatial depth. Hence, architects, planners, and developers unwittingly base their decisions on the agreed instrumentality of a perspectival space that has its origins in the fifteenth-century Italian Renaissance. This approach extends into other forms of city visualisation too---such as those portrayed in photography, cinematography, animation, computer games, and so on. As a manifestation of Panofsky's 'window on reality', the contemporary use of perspective perpetuates a perspectivist ideology that pervades much of Western visual media in general. To begin to understand how perspective has become such a large part of the architect's practice and subsequent depictions of the modern city we need to explore the rise of this method for organising the world visually. Hence, this article offers: an historical overview of the rise of perspective and the concomitant rise of the scientific method which claims to underpin its validity as an organisational method; and, the semiological influence of perspective as a way of thinking, and how it is reflected in post-photographic images of the city. It concludes with a brief discussion on the finitudes of virtual reality and how these might be interpreted historically.