Cast shadows. More powerful than light and yet deficiency
Ing. Gerd Mathias Micheluzzi M.A.: Cast shadows. More powerful than light and yet deficiency
According to Leonardo da Vinci, the ambivalent phenomenon of the shadow can be characterized as a deficiency of light (privatione di luce), while being of greater power (di maggiore potenzia) due to its ability to veil bodies entirely. In particular, the powerful nature of the shadow is evident where Leonardo speaks of the strike or impact (percussione) of a very specific form of shadow: the cast shadow.
Cast shadows are already referred to as vim naturae or privatio in medieval sources, whereby the latter is to be thought of as dependent on Aristotelian hylomorphism: as an accidental deficiency, which, added to matter, gives it the potency to unfold a dynamis directed towards Being – regarding shadows towards a potential state of light. Of particular interest in this context is the coincidence of several writings on optics, which circulated especially in the Franciscan milieu of the 13th century, with some purposefully placed trecentesque depictions of the cast shadow in central Italy.
Comprising several case studies, the aim of this art historical project is to reveal these interdependencies and to provide evidence that under very specific conditions the reintegration of the cast shadow as vim naturae already took place in advance of its supposed return in early 15th century painting.