Time and Telegraphy: Nineteenth-Century Contexts for Stained Glass
Source Title19: interdisciplinary studies in the long nineteenth century
PublisherOpen Library of the Humanities
University of Melbourne Author/sBurns, Karen
AffiliationArchitecture, Building and Planning
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsBurns, K. (2020). Time and Telegraphy: Nineteenth-Century Contexts for Stained Glass. 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, 2020 (30), https://doi.org/10.16995/ntn.2902.
Access StatusOpen Access
Open Access URLhttps://19.bbk.ac.uk/article/id/2902/
Although nineteenth-century writers frequently conceived of rail travel as a dream space of collaged, fleeting, and disjunctive experiences, the transition from everyday life to travel dream state has been rarely explored. This article uses the Flinders Street Station portal (Melbourne, Australia, 1900–09) and its large stained glass lunette to examine the primary role of the station portal as a material and psychological gateway to the railway dream space. I locate the Flinders Street stained glass within a particular historical moment when a communication and technological turn produced fertile convergences between aesthetics and technology. I argue that stained glass was regarded as a medium of privileged proximity to psychological states and perceptual conditions. In the fin-de-siècle period these long-standing associations were called upon as Arts and Crafts theory reconfigured design and stained glass as media for storing, processing, and transmitting memory. New conceptions of the artwork as a medium enabled art to become an instrument for attuning spectators to aesthetic and perceptual states. Art could stimulate and awaken the spectator’s memory. Racial thinking on memory entered this discourse. The Flinders Street glass was commissioned during a key moment of nation building in Federation Australia, and I argue that a racial logic underpinned the iconographic and phantasmatic qualities of the glass. This article locates stained glass within the media, optical, communications, and other technologies of the nineteenth century and suggests future directions for stained glass scholarship, including work in settler contexts.
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