Linda Báez Rubí

Bilderfahrzeuge Project

Tel. +44 (0) 20 7862 8742

Bilderfahrzeuge Project website


Project for the Bilderfahrzeuge Project

A study of different artifacts of a cultural exchange between Europe and Asia via the Ibero-American Continent

Ever since the Discovery of the New World by Columbus in 1492 ideas coming from Europe, imbedded within a legacy of Arabic science and Classical heritage, were transported by means of images and texts to America through maritime routes. Prints and artifacts were one of the many vehicles used for the transmission of religious and political imaginaries as well as of specific worldviews and conceptions. My research interests are focused on the Intercultural exchange manifested in different vehicles (for example, mechanical and optical devices, folding screens) and the particularity of their own iconic logic in operation. For this task, I have chosen the cultural exchange between Europe and Orient via the Ibero-American Continent during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, following the main route through which goods circulated, better known as the Nao of China or Manila Galleon. This can be characterized as a circular route: Trading ships sailed from Manila (which was part of the Spanish East Indies) to the port of Acapulco on the Pacific Coast, where goods were then transported by land across Mexico to the port of Veracruz (Gulf of Mexico) where they were loaded onto ships belonging to the Spanish fleet destined for Spain. Evidently this route was also used to ship goods from Europe to Asia, to accommodate the needs of the missionaries, e.g. from many European cities to America and from Jesuit schools within the Habsburg Empire to New Spain. Within this rich material exchange, intellectual ideas also circulated. For example, the production of mechanical and musical instruments encouraged by the Jesuits’ interest in establishing a new program of conversion under the motto propagatio fidei per scientias (to propagate faith through science) deserves more attention, because under this motto, the Jesuits promote the dissemination of clocks, musical instruments and other artefacts into territories such as Asia and America.

Departing from Warburguian input (reflections on vehicles transporting images), I intend to explore the different possibilities of iconic potentiality as generated by the particular characteristics of the vehicle (I’m speaking of visual, formal, material and haptic attributes) which are fundamental to their use and symbolic meaning. I will try to explain how this iconicity is transformed in its cultural exchange along geographical routes and how these iconic devices manage to transform human’ attitudes at the interior of a determined cultural sphere.