Dissertation written by Matthew Tate BA Honours Illustration Norwich University of the Arts.
A prognosis describing the antagonistic relationships between mediums of art, using the propagation of Gothic art and how it is disseminated from the individual to the mass media. How art styles were then mediated from within those contexts.This Essay will cover the topics of Gothic Art, featured in a range of mediums of art, such as architecture and print, and the Histories of Gothic art. The aim of this essay is to understand and identify what Gothic art is and how it is spread from an individual to the greater understanding of the social group. An important part of the process of dissemination is the ability to mediate within a context, which certain groups of Gothic artists could achieve. This essay aims to identify how those styles of mediation were used or applied to Gothic art to give it context within a wider purpose. Media is a consistent factor in art and it applies to Gothic art greatly. The power media has over Gothic art is brought to question in Victor Hugo’s Essay This Will Kill That, this essay aims to analyse the text and use examples of how its theory has played upon Gothic art, and how it has shaped Gothic art within a contemporary context.
Art cannot sustain itself. Not to mistake, though, that something autonomous cannot be classified as art. A part of the process of creating Gothic art is to disseminate it within a context to the public. To disseminate or propagate is to spread a theory or an idea. To propagate within a context is to spread an idea using set up events to further the original point. To mediate a context is to create an order to a debate within that context and theory. A main example of this would be Victor Hugo, writing the Hunchback of Notre Dame to spread his theory of This Will Kill That in 1831, using the context of a novel as his way to mediate his message to the public at the time. Many Gothic artists used this ability to propagate and further their theories of their art, but to understand how they did this we must first understand what Gothic means.
Gothic by definition means barbaric, or, not classical by the Romans, but that description has evolved to attribute itself to the sinister, the gloomy and horror. Gothic originates within architecture in the middle ages from the 12th to the 16th century, and was an evolution of Romanesque architecture, henceforth their branding it ‘not classical’, and was noted by specific design choices, pointed archways, flying buttresses, and vertical emphasis, (see appendix 1) until those design choices became the entire monument.
Gothic was eventually succeeded by the Renaissance in the mid 18th century, until revived by the Victorians, the same way that it had been in the past. But it was actually literature that shaped Gothic imagery today. With early examples of horror literature, like, Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto (1764) a frightening tale, of murder tragedy and myth all painted within the brushstrokes of a Gothic landscape.
Already we have two mediums contrasting the idea of what of Gothic is, at the same time. On one side Gothic Revivalist architecture repeating principals of medieval style (see appendix 2) and manners and their influence on national identity, and creating traditional pathways, whilst, the press (the press being treated as the medium that literature and printmaking uses to propagate it) believed that Gothic was a stylistic cultural aesthetic that was associated with decay, nostalgia and death (Nick Groom 2012). Both use forms of imagery to disseminate their ideas to the wider public, architecture using solid bricks and mortar, literature the printed word together with drawn illustrations.
This is not the first time in art history that the antagonistic relationships of style have paralleled one another. These are consistent factors of art, and are involved in the way that art sustains itself. Styles are the principals in which something is created, and those principals are what define the theory of the individual, whom is propagating that theory to the public. Communication if not well received by the group, that it is aimed at, could be considered as not successful. Design choices affect whether a theory or an idea is accepted, or rejected.
Fashions have done more harm than revolutions
Victor Hugo, Hunchback of Notre dame 1831, page 137
The battle of the styles, between architecture and print was predicted by Victor Hugo, and was written about in his book, the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hugo’s prognostication predicts the outcome of this relationship of Gothic Art, whilst Pugin was one of the main bastions of Gothic Architecture. By using the main pioneers of these mediums of Gothic, and comparing them to each other, and how they went through the process of disseminating an idea, and mediating that within a context. From that, the essay will compare how both these ideas worked, successfully or unsuccessfully, and how that related to Victor Hugo’s ‘Theory’, and helped shape contemporary Gothic.
It starts in Paris in the 1800s, with the Fears of a writer.
Chapter 1: THE FEARS OF A WRITER
When Victor Hugo (1802-1885) sat down to write Hunchback of Notre Dame (1831), Notre Dame Cathedral was beginning to become derelict and neglected. His main aim was to disseminate this information within the city of Paris and shame the city. This book would attract thousands of people in the coming years to the cathedral and establish it as a landmark once again (see appendix 3).
Hugo was known as a champion of Romanticism, but the story he writes is steeped in Gothic, this is a barbaric book, full of horror set in a gloomy city and Cathedral. Hugo acknowledges how important the buildings are to the story, and to Gothic History. He pause the narrative on many occasions to stress the importance of architecture, and paints clearly each individual part of the aesthetic history of Paris. Hugo’s theory becomes clear, when Frollo, villain and a philosopher, points to the book, Glossa in Epistolas D. Pauli, by Pierre Lombard Master of Sentences, and then to Notre Dame outside and says ‘Ceci tuera Cela’ translated to ‘This will kill That’. (See appendix4)
Alas! Alas! Small things come at the end of Great things; a tooth triumphs over a mass. The Nile rat kills the crocodile; the swordfish the whale, the book will kill the edifice.
Claude Frollo-Victor Hugo Hunchback of Notre Dame 1831, chapter 25 page 18.
Using Frollo and self insertion Hugo talks through the character and describes his theory. In ‘This Will Kill That’ his premonition is that the advent of printing has terrible consequences for architecture. According to Hugo, prints’ ability to propagate is a powerful thing, and its power is the downfall of the edifice. His idea comes from the thought that architecture originally is what people could identify, such as: history, social cultures and fashion trends. Architecture is the development of human thought, evolving from a simple standing stone, morphing into a letter, then a hieroglyph, a collection of letters, and developing itself into a sentence. That sentence standing physically manifested is a building, developing from that one point to a grander collective of ideas. That building is the physical description of a propagated theory, but the press as a different new, more convenient avenue would be the new medium of the human race, the new way in which we propagate our ideas and thoughts. This then would cause architecture to wilt slowly and eventually die.
An example outside of this would be to look at the philosopher Plato. According to Plato, when Hermes invented writing, he presented his design to the Pharaoh Thamus; he was praised by all in court, for having created a method in which people could remember what they would usually forget. The Pharaoh was concerned though, stating that memory was a gift that should be trained, and with his invention people wouldn’t feel obliged to retain memory. They would remember ‘not because of an internal effort, but by mere virtue of an external device’ (Umberto Eco 1995)
Ironically in Hugo’s essay ‘This will Kill That’, he comments how print’s power to propagate, was originally something that only architecture could do. Architecture developed as a medium after the crusades, the reformation happened, when edifices were passed from theocracy to democracy, which the priest was usurped by the artist and the artist was suddenly the architect. In older styles, Hindu, Egyptian and Romanesque the architecture is solely for worship. Rather than that in newer styles, they propagate to the people, Gothic is for the citizen. Gothic edifices were propagated by the individual, and once disseminated the idea was built up by the masses.
All material forces, all intellectual forces of society, all converged towards the same point… under the pretext of building churches to God, art was developed in magnificent proportions’
Victor Hugo Hunchback of Notre Dame 1831, chapter 25 page 188.
Medieval Gothic architecture was a style which could not be repressed. In other mediums such as, print or written word, to propagate theories that were out of favour to the theocratic government meant execution. Gothic architecture had the ability to mediate those points, within a context of four walls. ‘If the priest had his basilica and altar he has nothing to say’, (Hugo 1831) essentially it was the perfect deception. Right up to the 15th century
The reformation allows Gothic architecture to grow, and expand its vocabulary, but also does this for the Press. The press and presents a new way in which artists could disseminate. A written word is burnable, architecture, though more complex and more durable is destructible. The press though, is immortal; it represents spread of thought, perfect propagation, and an idea that is spread almost instantly. For Hugo, and Gothic architecture it is a frightening thing.
Artists began to take an increased interest in prints for commercial as well as artistic purposes, and printmaking and collecting became fashionable hobbies for amateurs.
Carol Wax, Mezzotint, history and Technique. Chapter 1, page 13.
Hugo used the power of the printed word to disseminate his idea of Gothic to a wider audience whilst at the same time propagating his theory that the printed word would bring about the downfall of Gothic architecture. In a sense this theory was proved in that Gothic architecture disappears whilst the printed word, although not necessarily Gothic in its outlook spreads and grows. Hugo proved that art, that could not propagate itself, could not sustain itself, when posed with a more convenient form; art evolves and sheds a layer of its previous life. The victim that was Gothic architecture then died slowly. A reason for this death comes from the problem that even though a monument is huge and towering, solid and durable, and represents its idea so well, it is expensive to construct. Commencing with planning, legally acquiring the land, shipping the appropriate materials, wages for builders, such as masons, and wood cutters. Even after the building is erected continual funding is required, for restorations and alterations. The time for a building to be erected even with a nation to assist is monumental, and with the grandest Gothic cathedrals in the world, they would take years to be fully completed. Notre Dame itself laid the first stone in 1163 and was only finally completed after the middle of the 13th century. Print on the other hand is cheap, and quick in its production, the only part of the process that seems to be time consuming, is the production of the print, be it plate or book block. With the invention of moveable type, the time taken to produce letters and alphabets was reduced monumentally.
It doesn’t seem though that Hugo’s theory contains any disdain for the medium of press, but possibly more at the artists abandoning Gothic architecture, leading the people to leave it too. Once sovereign power of propagation left the edifice, other mediums of art that flocked to Gothic, left it, like sculpture, music and painting. With the commercial identity that print allowed, many art forms abandoned Gothic Architecture in favour of print as the main method of disseminating their ideas.
From the 15th century to the early 19th century the new artistic thoughts were depicted through press and Gothic was long dead, until the middle of the 19th century when the Victorians conceived the Gothic Revival. Pugin was the pioneer of this Gothic architectural revival he envisioned, that the architectural soul of the city would affect change in its citizens. Like Hugo, Pugin believed that his contemporaries in architecture were tainted and Gothic could rehabilitate that. Pugin would create a publication to disseminate his ideas further in ways that architecture had not applied. At the age of 23 he published Contrasts a book that was extremely controversial for its time. Hunchback of Notre Dame was published in Paris in 1831, with critical acclaim, and five years later in London, Contrasts was born.
Chapter 2: GOTHIC REVIVED – BOOKS MADE OF STONE
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (1812-1852) was one of the main bastions of Gothic architecture during one of London’s most controversial and transformative points in history. London was a place that was seeded with death, decay, sin and labour, a metaphorical hell for some people especially Pugin. Pugin felt that architecture was the soul of a city and could heal the wounds that the industrial revolution had caused. In 1836 Pugin published a book called Contrasts which highlighted his arguments toward the Gothic revival, and the ideals of his Medieval Gothic (see appendix 5).
The best way for the Gothic to propagate its theory to the masses of London, according to Pugin, was not through paintings and drawing of these ideals, but through the tall towers and great facades of Gothic architecture which could instil a feeling of hope, aesthetic beauty and higher sense of self and purity. Gothic Architecture was going to illustrate the feelings of nostalgia and that by looking into the past we could design a better future. This was what Pugin truly coveted.
I am well acquainted with everything here and have got introductions to all the most secret corners… Gothic for ever’ –Augustus Pugin to William Osmond 1832.
Rosemary Hill Pugin God’s Architect 2008 chapter 9, page104.
It was only with the competition for the design of the Palace of Westminster, that Contrasts would be conflagrated. After his entry into the competition letters were sent in expressing distaste in his work. Pugin’s main rival, James Hakewill, stated in his pamphlet that Gothic was ‘ugly’ and ‘outdated’. Pugin published a small pamphlet in response, almost a mock-up for what Contrasts was to blossom into. On the back of this pamphlet was an advertisement for Contrasts, which he stated would be coming soon (Rosemary Hill 2008).
Contrasts was an attack on London society, and the styles that London identified with, a book that clearly had biases that were expressed clearly in his illustrations, prints and diagrams. Pugin loved being surrounded by controversy, and used this to gather his visual research, he travelled around London and other places to study other practitioner’s artwork. Using examples like the entrance to King’s college by Smirke, to the entrance to Christ Church Oxford. He made sure that he was drawing only from examples that highlighted all his points (See appendix 6) London on one side was illustrated as a barren smoky, an architecturally boring and ugly place, with buildings and landmarks crossing over one another in cramped spaces, a landscape that was spattered with workhouses, prisons and factories. Here Pugin also reflected how he felt about London society and its people; they were slaves, criminals and unenlightened. Like Hugo, Pugin blamed the architects of his day as they hadn’t propagated the population with beautiful architecture; their styles had tainted it instead. Hugo’s fears (through Frollo) for what Paris was to become, stylistically, was Pugin’s twisted reality. London in these prints is a machine and not what it should be, Gothic (according to Pugin).
To parallel this in his book, he literally contrasted these initial prints with another collection of prints, which had his preferred landscape of London, all with sweeping hills and churches (see appendix 7). In comparison to the previous observations, the most prevalent theme of these collections is his sense of space and composition. Through this free landscape, you can gather a definitive sense of design and lines through the images. Pugin cleverly shows how current London has no sense of compositional design, rather than the ideal London where every building and landmark has a set amount of land around it. It seemed that Pugin promised everyone a space to call their own, something that people rarely had in London at that time. This Gothic that Pugin was disseminating in comparison that was laid completely bare, and defined his personal prognosis and experience on the way that London could evolve, by learning from its mistakes, looking to the masters of Gothic and applying that to daily life.
Contrasts when it was originally published was not well received it was commented on as being extremely bias. For example, showing King’s College in an unflattering light, whilst Christ’s Church Oxford had the tower by Christopher Wren (a contemporary architect at the time) completely omitted from that sketch. The public were outraged, Arthur Vane a clergyman from Salisbury complained and wrote about this ‘violent attack’ on the nation’s ‘faith and discipline’, and debates began to ensue. Sadly Pugin did not have many allies to defend the publication, due to his drawings literally naming names and drawing unappealing comparisons. Pugin did practice with the art of comedy in parts of his work, and he considered his illustrations were a mixture of comedic jibes and Ideal schemes. But people were too scandalized to appreciate these, and the public found the ‘attack’ offensive. Especially the church which had helped him felt betrayed by his designs. The publication in society’s eyes was successful in bringing about the revival of Catholicism and anti-Catholicism, but essentially failed in propagating the Gothic revival, his visual language wasn’t something universal.
Pugin attempted to disseminate his ideas for a Gothic architectural revival using the printed word and imagery in the form of illustrations. His illustrations poked fun at society which offended the educated upper classes. Whilst the lower classes, widely uneducated and without access to Contrasts and its supporting illustrations failed to grasp its ideology. A clear divide was made in the audiences that this polemical book preached to. They were confused, by the book and what it as an object was trying to tell them.
Pugin would live for another twenty years, and create over a hundred masterpiece edifices, and publish some eight books, that would perpetuate and would attempt to legitimise Gothic, to the many people that believed Gothic was outdated. Throughout his career, he described himself never to innovate, only to revive. As Hugo had theorised by comparing the rate in which the press and the architect work against each other, designing so many buildings affected Pugin, and he died at the age of 40 after a complete mental breakdown.
A book is so soon made costs so little and can go so far! …architecture can have a fine monument, an isolated masterpiece, here and there.
Victor Hugo Hunchback of Notre Dame 1831, chapter 25 page 194.
Pugin and Hugo both despised what contemporary edifices had become and how architects had tainted the spiritual and physical soul of the city. Ironically each used a book to try and communicate their fears about Gothic architecture, and artistic values in general, if Hugo and Pugin were successful in any aspect of their works it was at least in one point. That art was not only a question of beauty, but a question of morals as well. Ethical values now had equality to artistic values (Caroline Healey 2004).
But the second part to Hugo’s prognosis was coming to fruition, and whilst Pugin had published Contrasts, a series of books were published known as the Penny Dreadfuls. In which they derived from a different style, and history of Gothic. Their concept of Gothic was a complete parallel of what Pugin envisioned Gothic was, and would propagate this concept in a more successful way. They would change the way that we see Gothic today. Gothic Press had come and with it a Nightmare.
Chapter 3: INK AND BLOOD – THE PRESS
When I placed my head on the pillow…I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arouse in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie’
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s preface to Frankenstein second edition 1831. Terror and Wonder the Gothic Imagination-Gothic, 1764-1820, page 93
Twenty years before Contrasts and Hunchback were published, in the summer of 1816, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851) was on holiday with a group of friends in Geneva, when she envisioned Frankenstein. After debating with her friends about the most current experiments in science and medical fields, and recent discoveries in dissections, that caused cadavers to twitch, she dreamt that night about her pale student, and his phantasm.
The Victorian preoccupation with death and decay was extremely fashionable in the 1800s, with the medical profession booming in London where scientific experimentation was happening. Medical schools were increasing in number, requiring a steady supply of cadavers for training and experimentation purposes. This with the lacklustre legal system, and the rise of crime, meant more murders, assaults and body snatching, and meant the fascination with death continued. History meanwhile was fixated on it. Napoleon’s armies had been defeated in Egypt, and antiquarians and historians had brought back artefacts, in which the Victorians saw a culture of death and ritual. These artefacts revealed the problems in Victorian cemeteries due to the population boom (Dale Townsend 2014). The rise in population caused graveyards to overrun with corpses (see appendix 8), meaning bodies had to be laid upon another, with shallow dirt, which sometimes caused the cadaver to be exposed in certain types of weather. There was a romantic imagery that surrounded the Egyptians and the Victorians envied their ‘immortality’ with their rituals of death. Oriental Gothic stemmed from this mix of cultures, in which writers, like William Beckford who wrote Vathek, wrote scathing erotic novels, of Arabic princes and demon worship.
In Victorian England technological changes, such as the railway caused an expansion in cheap printed materials. The railway meant a new mode of transportation for the propagation of print, in which materials became more cost effective. Newspapers were printed, in which engraved portraits were used to convey to the public portraits of those people in the news. A strain of these reports evolved into ‘street literature’. A great example of this would be G W N Reynolds’s serial The Mysteries of London (1844). This serial was so popular it sold 40,000 copies a week.
This was a time for the spread of information. Public education fostered literacy and a resulting demand for books. Bookseller’s shops became popular meeting places to learn the latest news, and to purchase maps, newspapers, and other printed matter, including illustrated books and prints.
Carol Wax, Mezzotint, history and Technique. Publishing and the Economics of steel, page 105.
The middle and lower classes became more literate at this time, and this form of dissemination spoke in words in which they understood, supported by graphic art. The illustrations printed in the Penny Dreadfuls were frequently grotesque, barbarous and horrific. The leering toad-like faces, of the wealthy, the wide eyes and stretched jaws of neglected ghosts, the agonies of the victims of Varney the Vampire, it was so theatrical, over exaggerated and grotesque, that the public immediately connected with the images (see appendix 9). It was fun, lively and exciting, unlike Pugin’s visual language which was sombre. What was once a style that was in based ecclesial towers now was submerged within an urban landscape. The illustrations themselves though were important to establishing this visual vocabulary; they laid the foundations in how Gothic is seen in imagery today.
As Hugo had for seen before, this medievalism that was present in architecture was being used and attributed to print, the vocabulary though grotesque and exaggerated stood in the realms of truths rather than that for which Pugin had been fighting. Looking back at Shelley, when writing Frankenstein, she was responding to sciences and the concerns of the people. William Beckford, when writing Vathek, was responding to the sexual restrictions of his era. These collectives even though based in exaggerated world were based on truths with the artist responding to them. Pugin on the other hand was so determined to create an ideal London; he might have forgotten what was real to the public.
It is Victorian literature that has formed and provided the foundations for our current understanding of Gothic. Frankenstein’s monster is half dead a mixture of corpses, Dracula is ageless and needs blood to survive, he lives between life and death (see appendix 10). Both stories concentrate on this cycle of life and death, whilst threatening the Victorian culture. It is this Victorian Culture that we then attribute to Gothic. Even though Pugin was successful in reintroducing and legitimising Gothic as a style within society, he was unpopular. Although he used some similar skills as the press, such as satire and grotesqueness, ultimately this did not translate as well. His pious medievalism came across to people, as pride, and his work with Contrasts, reflects that. His lack of understanding of his audience shows how unfavoured the critical reception was.
Gothic press on the other hand could mediate itself within a context. The context here is that Victorian culture was centred on death, and using grotesque imagery capitalised on that. The mediation here is configuring that toward an audience with less understanding and culture. Using experiences that were familiar to the public, the press was distributed more frequently. An example is Frankenstein’s context affected Shelley as a writer and as a person, and therefore affected other people around her, so she mediated her fears using a Gothic Novel to describe her thoughts. This supports Hugo’s writing on how an idea disseminates itself, through spreading from one individual to the group, but instead of the edifice, it is the press. Hugo was right. He proved that art could not sustain itself, and the key factor in how the Gothic disseminated itself was through the audience, as Hugo said on architecture but could be applied to Gothic art;
Each wave of time contributes its alluvium, each race deposits its layer on the monument, each individual brings his stone. Thus do the beavers, thus do the bees, thus do men. The great symbol of architecture, Babel, is a hive.
Victor Hugo Hunchback of Notre Dame 1831, chapter 14 page 115.
Conclusion: Contemporary Gothic
Each wave of time contributes its alluvium, each race deposits its layer on the monument, each individual brings his stone. Thus do the beavers, thus do the bees, thus do men. The great symbol of architecture, Babel, is a hive.
Victor Hugo Hunchback of Notre Dame 1831, chapter 14 page 115.
If we change the words architecture and Babel to Gothic, could this statement be considered legitimate? It we consider how the more successful propagations of Gothic were disseminated we would see a pattern in which an artist fears, or theorizes, mediates their context, and that mediation when successful is responded to by the public, returns itself, and perpetuates the idea. Gothic ideology is a hive, a collection of thoughts and principals in which the style ‘Gothic’ is perceived. That view of Gothic is how the contemporary public and artists perceive it. The success of the Gothic press bleeds over time, to each individual and that popular opinion becomes the idea. The Gothic press disseminated that Gothic was a style that was centred on the principals of death, decay, horror and gloom which became the popular definition of the word Gothic.
We have seen Gothic Art evolve from Romanesque architecture, become reborn in the Victorian era in the form of horror novels and the Penny Dreadful. Each protagonist of Gothic Art used their own available medium to propagate their view of the meaning of “Gothic” to the masses. Occasionally these medium were antagonistic, Pugin used architecture, text and illustrations to disseminate his view of Gothic.
Initially, Gothic was defined as “barbaric” not classical when applied to architecture with the description evolving to include sinister, gloomy and horrific. Pugin’s architecture today is judged to be conservative and stoic with few clean lines, yet his buildings still impact on the contemporary perceived idea of what Gothic Art is. Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame is situated in the city of Paris and the crumbling Notre Dame Cathedral. Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker used the press to disseminate their ideas of Gothic, using horror and monsters. All of these people disseminated their ideas of Gothic through imagery, either in the form of a building, a book or an illustration, using whatever medium was available to them at that time. Depending upon how successful they were in the propagation of their ideas to the “common” people had an impact on how their styles were then mediated. All were relatively successful and are remembered today, some not by name but from the books they wrote or the buildings they erected. Modern Gothic continues to be disseminated by film, television and fashion (see appendix 11), with much based on the Victorian novels of Shelley and Stoker.
Like Gothic press, contemporary Gothic artists respond in the same or similar ways. Tim Burton used Gothic art to draw his dysfunctional relationships with other people. This reflects in his art where his Gothic film Edward Scissorhands (1990) shows this, Edward wants to love, but cannot touch the people around him. Edward Gorey used Gothic to show his confusion with the materialistic America that surrounded him at the time, so he created the Addams family in 1938 (see appendix 12) a cartoon based around a family that relish the macabre and are frightened by the ‘perfect American ideal’. Francis Ford Coppola filmed a new adaptation of Dracula in 1997, with Gary Oldman as the Count. Its critical reception was universally positive. Dracula is no longer the ageless monster; he is a lover, warrior and trendsetter, and misunderstood. His journey instead of simply draining Mina instead is a lover’s quest, in which he wishes to turn her, so they may have eternal love together.
Film is the perfect evolution for Gothic; the moving image is a perfect marriage of text and image that Gothic press had before but separately (see Appendix 13). Film takes the meteorological, topographical, architectural, material and psychological aspects that the Gothic press produced and moves them to the moving images. The Gothic film is an extension of the Gothic press, and becomes its contemporary counterpart; film like the press does understand the audience that exists today. In the 21st century dissemination has become so much more potent, and flexible. Today society thrives under commercial saturation and Gothic art spreads so much more quickly than Hugo could have ever imagined. Technology is developing alongside art at such an amazing pace, all in the favour of the press’s vision. Websites like Amazon, allow you to buy printed material, and films, either electronically or physically. Print becomes more wasteful and flexible with electronic printing, and materials becoming more and easier to source through the internet, all in favour of the press’s dissemination, while architecture benefits only slightly.
Hugo was completely right in his prognosis that the book killed the edifice. This will Kill That proved that art cannot sustain itself, and that if art wishes to perpetuate itself, it must disseminate itself. To create art is one thing but to understand it, and communicate that to a wider purpose is equally just as important. Mediation is the key in art, it can either be successful, like the way that the Gothic press was, or be unsuccessful, like Pugin’s ideas. If unsuccessful, over time styles will become unaccepted by the majority of the group, rather than popular styles which will be accepted, remembered and perpetuated. Gothic if it wishes to survive must continue this trend, and must continue to be involved with the audience the same way that the press did in the Gothic Revival
Hugo was right, This had killed that.