350 year old "photographs" by Vermeer?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by NedL, Jun 10, 2014.

  1. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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  2. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    That is cool!

    Jeff
     
  3. yurisrey

    yurisrey Member

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    This follows the theory that greater realism may have been achieved in the past with the aid of optical devices such as the camera obscura. While I don't doubt the possibility of Renaissance and post-Renaissance artists using drawing aids for initial sketching, I think the author is going to great pains to prove just a minor detail, for if any optical devices were used, it surely was just one of the many techniques painters relied on. For example, I find it interesting that the author doesn't mention: the classic education that was prevalent then that had a great focus in geometry and Greco-Roman art/history, nor, something as "of the period" as grisaille technique which allowed the painter to achieve greater realism, or 'photorealism' as the author puts it.
     
  4. AgX

    AgX Member

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    He starts by stating that the human eye won't be able to reproduce shade of the wall paint as a photograph would do it due, due to a compensating effect of human Vision.

    He further states that projecting an image of the real scene onto canvas would mix-up the luminances of the reflected projection image and the reflection of the fresh painting. As the former is the lighting of the latter.
    Using superimposed images as by means of a mirror however would add-up luminances.
    Seeing the real Scene with one eye and the fresh painting with other might be an outcome.

    But then that compensating effect of human vision would still exist in his design.
     
  5. albertphot

    albertphot Member

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  6. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I recently was watching similar documentary (can't find the link) where proof for using lenses by old masters was shallow DOF in some parts of the paintings and optical distortion - that you would not normally have in paintings.
     
  7. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    Are people surprised at this at all? People knew how to project images for a LONG time before they figured out chemical procesess to fix the image. The use of any and all optical aids to painting should be assumed.
     
  8. David Brown

    David Brown Member

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  9. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    can you imagine just how great vermeer would be, if only he could stick a leica lens on his contraption! :laugh:

    of course, he might have been a good painter, too...
     
  10. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    well that was really boring

    Prisoners of war in German camps duplicated very complicated forged documents including "typewritten" texts and "official seals" and "photographs," all from pen and ink. In an atmosphere of great deprivation where everything they needed had to be scrounged, bribed for or stolen.The main thrust of the thread seems to be that if the writer can't do it, Vermeer could not do it. Did he ever think Vermeer was more talented than himself? Good ole boy Saddam Hussein told his pals that he had the atomic bomb, too. He claimed that a blacksmith in Damascus had whipped one up for him. I'll believe Sad old Saddam before I believe this stuff. Well, I needed to waste my time while finishing my coffee before venturing out into the 110 degreer heat. Mad Dogs and Englishmen....
     
  11. ntenny

    ntenny Subscriber

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    Interesting article, but I'm not sure it says much, once you read past the surface-layer rantiness. It's obviously written in an intentionally polemical way, but the actual content I got from it boiled down to "he may be right, but his copy is Bad Art, and anyway focusing on mechanics over artistic talent misses the point".

    Which might all be true---I don't know about the Bad Art bit, but the other two theses seem reasonable---but seems itself to miss the point of the original experiment. Probably nobody disputes that Vermeer was talented as all hell, but I don't know: did anyone, other than the author of the _Grauniad_ column, read the original article as carrying the message "Vermeer was nothing special, he just had a magic tool"?

    It reminds me a little bit of the "photography isn't art" / "yes it is" / "no it isn't" Argument Clinic of the early 20th century. If an artist used a sophisticated tool, something that could allow a complete tyro to duplicate some of the challenging mechanics of their work, would that devalue the work as capital-A-Art? I thought we'd gotten past that question long since, but maybe the tree of controversy needs to be watered from time to time with the blood of repetition, or something like that.

    -NT
     
  12. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    They lost me at this point: "Click images to embiggen.".
     
  13. David Brown

    David Brown Member

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    Well, yes, I did. I could be wrong. YMMV.
     
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  15. ntenny

    ntenny Subscriber

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    Fair enough. I thought it was more of a proof-of-concept intended to show that something may have been in Vermeer's toolbox, but I could be wrong too. Actually, we're probably both wrong and it was primarily a way of selling DVDs.

    -NT
     
  16. David Brown

    David Brown Member

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    :smile:
     
  17. Mustafa Umut Sarac

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  18. Barry S

    Barry S Member

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    It's a fun exercise based on the slimmest of premises and not a shred of proof. The claim that you can't see variances in shading on a wall is completely ridiculous. Artists have been accurately reproducing and creating subtle shading for centuries.
     
  19. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    Maybe the guy (Vemeer) was just really good! Like many other old painters. Sometimes people have to write articles just to make money because that's how they earn their living. Others just can't believe how good some people are at their work - they must have cheated somehow. Just IMHO.
     
  20. Helios 1984

    Helios 1984 Member

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    So maybe Vermeer was a very very good painter and also versed in science? Like Da Vinci? Either way, his paintings are fabulous.

    Like the claim that you can't see the difference over 60hz or that your ears can't tell the difference between crappy headphones and good ones.
     
  21. Jeff Bradford

    Jeff Bradford Subscriber

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    An interesting theory is posited in the linked article. Unfortunately, I had to indulge the author through many paragraphs about his computerized power tools in order to find almost no information on this optical aid which no one will ever prove existed.
     
  22. MartinCrabtree

    MartinCrabtree Member

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    The talents/skills required to produce art on that level are what makes the works great. I suggest the author reproduce a Vermeer by the methods cited. Let see his assumptions/theory verified.
     
  23. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    There are many problems with the author's assumptions. First off, the quality of the glass they had back then was pretty poor. Vermeer wouldn't have had access to a nice, clear, modern glass. Making your own on a lathe wouldn't come close to simulating the existing glass of the time. Especially not on a modern lathe with much higher tolerances than you'd ever find back in the day. And did they even use lenses in camera obscuras? I thought those were generally made with pinholes back then. Also, they didn't have modern glass and aluminum mirrors back then. They generally used polished silver plates. If you've ever seen your reflection in a polished silver mirror, it's neither line nor color accurate. Third, his paintings were mostly (if not exclusively) indoors. The light would have likely been too low to make use of a camera obscura, if he ever even owned one (and since he was most likely self taught and never traveled to Italy, I doubt he would have even known about them). Fourth, he didn't have access to artificial light sources beyond a candle. With the sun constantly in motion, the devices the author used would have done him no good. Also, people probably didn't sit for the entire length of the painting, because even back then, models were expensive and had other things to do with their time.

    As for the questions about the human eye and how it perceives light differently than a photograph... That is irrelevant. Any decent painter (which the author is clearly not) knows colors can be perceived differently depending on what colors surround them. That's why painters block out the surrounding colors with something like their hand or a card with a hole cut in it to get a more accurate image of the color. It's actually the same technique the author is using with his mirror. The mirror is only picking up a small fraction of the scene, so your eye isn't being distracted by the surrounding colors. Also, he's using modern and synthetic paints, which are a lot easier to control than organic paints that you make yourself.

    This article is what happens when you give a man with no talent and a jealous nature too much time and money. It wreaks of "Ancient Aliens". It's poorly thought out, poorly researched, and is clearly nothing more than an attempt to generate attention for the author. Seriously! Who writes a hit piece on a dude who's been dead for hundreds of years and is universally revered? If he consulted several art historians and Vermeer experts as well as other historians familiar with the technologies and materials of the era, I'm sure he would have (and should have) abandoned this whole venture not long after starting it. As it stands, he basically produced a very elaborate and expensive "paint by the numbers" system.

    Next up, an article about how to take photographs just like Ansel Adams using your computer scanner and an Ansel Adams print.
     
  24. Nicely stated. The original article was written by someone with no artistic ability nor talent who is also an journalist who will never have an original idea in his life.
     
  25. Helios 1984

    Helios 1984 Member

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    The image bellow has been done with a ballpoint pen and hundreds of thousands of dots. Now, tell me again what people with skills can do and cannot do?

    [​IMG]
     
  26. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I remember reading of this at least 25 years ago, it wasn't a new subject then. I believe the article mentioned Albrecht Durer (among others) and his representation of perspective.