This technique evolved from the studies on the refraction of light by the Arab mathematician Ibn al-Haythanthe first to understand the radius rotates along a straight line from a fixed point. From this basis, later developed in the west by Roger Bacon, Jonh Peckam and Vitelo, Leon Alberti developed a painting technique based on the assumption that what the eye sees is an interception of lines from a fixed point that came to be known as vanishing point.
The painting was a kind of cross-section in this projection. Alberti’s treaty Della Pittura contained the first study on linear perspective, which became a fundamental instrument for the painters of the Quattrocento. Alberti also influenced Filippo Brunelleschi, who applied the projection technique to architecture.
A technical projectism that later gained strong epistemological amplitudes was developed during the Renaissance.
The perception of the ability to project opened up a new paradigm of understanding, which was thereafter seen as the core of the knowledge from which the light that comes out of the mind and explains the world is projected. Projectism as a fundamental trait of the Enlightenment period of experience knew its heyday with David Hume’s philosophy, especially in his projection theory. According to Hume, all knowledge is based on the experience of facts. It is the perception that the observation of similar events repeated throughout time may lead thought to project a causal relation between them that enables us to explain the world. Hume’s critics catalogued this projection as psychological. Indeed, it was with psychoanalysis in the 19th century that projection became an interesting philosophical concept, able to expand its reach to aesthetic analytics.
In the psychoanalytical concept, experience should be seen as a process that results from the transfer of the ideas, values and myths that form the mental picture of the self to the others as a projection.
Hence, art as a reflection (of ideas) should first be understood as projection. Experience and its complex transfer system are projected in the artistic object.
Some of the early anthropological theories showed us interpretive lines of cave art as an example of magical projections. The Frenchman Henri Breuil called it “propitiatory magic" . Vulnerability would be projected in the animals to be hunted: painting or engraving them beforehand would make them grow weak. This theory was contested by anthropologist Henri Delporte due to the signs he detected in the engravings, which he called “aesthetic indexes”. Not all engravings depicted fauna: Delporte also detected flora and other forms.
“Propitiatory” projection would therefore not be valid on its own without more complex explanations. Projection was indeed more than magical or religious mysticism: it manifested itself in the cave period through a feature that crossed all the following ages in art – miniaturisation. Things were miniaturised as a manifestation of a projection of power. By miniaturising that which was engraved, putting it close at hand, it would somehow be made available. “Close at hand” can be a translation for Heidegger’s Zuhandenheit. Through his notion of Zuhandenheit Heidegger explained one of the ways of the emergence of the being-in-the world that seduced him the most – to use the world manually rather than technologically.