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Light!: The Industrial Age 1750-1900 Art & Science, Technology & Society

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Of all the revolutionary changes brought about by the industrial age perhaps the most extraordinary and far-reaching was the transformation of light. Scientists described its hidden laws to the public for the first time. Artists found radical ways of depicting it. Inventors found new ways of making it. The lives of ordinary people changed forever as streets, shops, theaters, and their own homes were brilliantly illuminated, first by gas, and then, even more dazzlingly, by electricity. The story is told here for the first time in its entirety. The book describes the inventions still with us, like electric light, the microscope, and photography, as well as arcane reminders of a vanished world, such as the heliostat, the lithophane, and the magic lantern. It portrays a revolution in the arts: Caspar David Friedrich depicting twilight, the Impressionists conjuring up sunlight. And it debates the changing symbolism of light: the meaning of the Enlightenment, the light of God's truth, the nightmarish light of the furnace by night. Above all, it delineates the changing lives of people. Setting masterpieces of painting alongside contemporary scientific instruments, theater paraphernalia, and domestic articles, Light! captures the history of human perception, understanding, and ingenuity. Hide synopsis

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