Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9780226017297 Published October 2013
E-book $7.00 to $44.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226017327 Published October 2013

Wicked Intelligence

Visual Art and the Science of Experiment in Restoration London

Matthew C. Hunter

Matthew C. Hunter

352 pages | 10 color plates, 66 halftones | 7 x 10 | © 2013
Cloth $55.00 ISBN: 9780226017297 Published October 2013
E-book $7.00 to $44.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226017327 Published October 2013
In late seventeenth-century London, the most provocative images were produced not by artists, but by scientists. Magnified fly-eyes drawn with the aid of microscopes, apparitions cast on laboratory walls by projection machines, cut-paper figures revealing the “exact proportions” of sea monsters—all were created by members of the Royal Society of London, the leading institutional platform of the early Scientific Revolution. Wicked Intelligence reveals that these natural philosophers shaped Restoration London’s emergent artistic cultures by forging collaborations with court painters, penning art theory, and designing triumphs of baroque architecture such as St Paul’s Cathedral.
 
Matthew C. Hunter brings to life this archive of experimental-philosophical visualization and the deft cunning that was required to manage such difficult research. Offering an innovative approach to the scientific image-making of the time, he demonstrates how the Restoration project of synthesizing experimental images into scientific knowledge, as practiced by Royal Society leaders Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren, might be called “wicked intelligence.” Hunter uses episodes involving specific visual practices—for instance, concocting a lethal amalgam of wax, steel, and sulfuric acid to produce an active model of a comet—to explore how Hooke, Wren, and their colleagues devised representational modes that aided their experiments. Ultimately, Hunter argues, the craft and craftiness of experimental visual practice both promoted and menaced the artistic traditions on which they drew, turning the Royal Society projects into objects of suspicion in Enlightenment England.
 
The first book to use the physical evidence of Royal Society experiments to produce forensic evaluations of how scientific knowledge was generated, Wicked Intelligence rethinks the parameters of visual art, experimental philosophy, and architecture at the cusp of Britain’s imperial power and artistic efflorescence.
Michael Gaudio, University of Minnesota
“No study in recent years on the arts in early modern Britain is as intelligent and inventive as Wicked Intelligence. Always attuned to the elusiveness of objects and their capacity to stimulate unexpected thoughts, Matthew C. Hunter follows Latourian hybrids as they circulate through Restoration experimental culture and brilliantly articulates the material intelligence at work in the Royal Society. Hunter’s writing is compelling and witty, and this book exemplifies the very wicked intelligence that he traces through Restoration experimental philosophy.”
Bill Brown, University of Chicago
 “In this delightful account of Restoration London, Matthew C. Hunter opens the curtain on a drama where experimental intelligence demands the convergence of philosophical, visual, and material cultures. Beyond his primary dramatis personae—Robert Hooke, Christopher Wren, and Peter Lely—he animates a diverse network of persons and things that brings the Royal Society to life as an epistemological enterprise determined to shape the nature of knowledge in the midst of (and facilitated by) new technologies, new markets, and new social sites. He illuminates a wild range of phenomena (from semaphore codes to psychotropic chemicals, the perspectograph to the great model of St. Paul’s Cathedral), but Hunter never loses sight of his overarching question of how the process of knowing was understood in the closing decades of the seventeenth century. Important as Wicked Intelligence is as a very particular contribution to art history and the history of science, I consider it essential reading for anyone interested in the ways that object culture and image culture become integral to the production and circulation of knowledge.”
John Brewer, California Institute of Technology
“Scrupulously researched, elegantly written, and ranging across art history, cultural history, and the history of science, Matthew C. Hunter’s Wicked Intelligence is cross-disciplinary scholarship at its best. Original and challenging in its judgments, it invites us to rethink the relations between art and science in late seventeenth-century Britain.”
LSE Review of Books
"This book is vibrant and richly detailed, intellectually stimulating in its argument, and gives us an exciting glimpse of the future of truly interdisciplinary historical research."
Los Angeles Review of Books
"[E]rudite and eloquent....[T]his is a simply gorgeously written and inspiring book, one that will, undoubtedly, engender vibrant and new scholarship on the fraught entanglement between art and science."
Contents
CONTENTS
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
NOTE ON CONVENTIONS AND DATES

INTRODUCTION
“Very Able, Very Sordid, Cynical, Wrong Headed and Whimsical”

CHAPTER ONE
“I Resolved to Throw Aside All Manner of Hypotheses . . . and to Attend
Wholly to What the Appearances Themselves Would Teach Me”

CHAPTER TWO
Knives Out: Thinking On, With, Through, and Against Paper in the Mid-1660s

CHAPTER THREE
Pictorial Intelligence: Peter Lely, Experimental
Culture, and the Parameters of Painting

CHAPTER FOUR
Cascade, Copper, Collection: Constellations of Images
in 1670s Experimental Philosophy

CHAPTER FIVE
“The Wonderful Elaboratory of the Animal Body”:
The Royal Society’s Repository at Work

CHAPTER SIX
The Architecture of Science and the Science of Architecture

CONCLUSION

NOTES     BIBLIOGRAPHY     INDEX
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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