Friday, March 22, 2013

Mind-bending anamorphic art makes the world look like software

Felice-Varini_003 - anamorphic art
Anamorphic, of course stemming from the Greek for “up from” or in this case “back” (ana) and then “shape” (morphe), is an appropriate description of just what you’re seeing in Felice Varini’s art. As in the image above, the art features real world spaces that are painted in such a way that all perspective is lost. You’re looking at a 3D space, but if you are standing in the right spot the painting appears to be completely two dimensional. To the technically inclined person, it appears as is there is a software overlay on the world in front of you, or maybe that you are looking through some sort of head-up display (HUD).
"Huit carrés"
This sort of anamorphic art works because it accounts for the viewer’s perspective from a given point and it compensates the image appropriately. Techniques like these are commonly used so that that images appear the way our brains think they should, but in this case it’s the exact opposite. We’re looking at a space where we know there is depth, but then the art is 2D. Everything is made more bizarre when you (quickly) realize the art is on a different plane than the background and that it does not feature any of the vanishing that you’d normally see when looking away from you (especially down hallway).
The piece above is just one example of Varini’s work. Its pixel-like squares impart a technical, futuristic feel to it, but the anamorphic effect is just as incredible when featured in an old church, using circles:
Or on the buildings in a hillside village:
The illusion only works from a single point — move a step or two in any direction and your perspective will shift sufficiently that the effect will be lost. Of course this will vary based on the size of the project. The larger the project and the farther away you are, the less of an issue a few feet will be. This is one reason why the last image, the town of Vercorin, Switzerland, is quite so impressive from afar. Even so, the images of the actually painting in the church of the hallway above (the second image) make it clear just how warped the paintings have to be so that they can appear to be totally flat when we look at them.
Once again, something that is incredibly easy to do in software — paint 2D over a seemingly 3D space — turns out to be difficult to do in the real world. In fact such paintings would be nearly impossible to pull off with conventional techniques, but Varini figured out a clever solution: he gets projects the image over the space and then paints over the projection. This gives him the exact areas that need to be traced, without having to plan out the perspective. The light and the contours do all the heavy lifting for him and this advanced effect is accomplished with just the simplest of tools.

No comments:

Post a Comment