Thursday, January 12, 2006

Photographic accuracy


Using a digi-cam and photoshop, anyone can create a "painting" (or a "pastel," or a "pencil drawing") and print it out.

There are also businesses who will do it for you, either on paper or artist's canvas, to create a paint-by-number kit of any chosen photo.

This is nothing new, really. The "camera obscura" (literally "dark room," a primitive sort of overhead projector) has been used since the Renaissance to help artists render correct perspective & proportion. Leonardo da Vinci and Vermeer, among others, might have used one.

Many painters today, too, produce works that, viewed from a distance, look photographic.
It is impressive to see an acurate rendering. We're tempted to assign importance to what "looks real," to see it as fact, to call it genuine & true as opposed to something fanciful and imaginary. If it looks real, it must be serious, substantial & consequential.

But maybe our visual perspective isn't the last word. Maybe the invisible plays a part, a crucial part, in things. Maybe movement, breath, energy, feelings, sounds, things you can't really see, are important, too. Maybe certain colors, lines, rhythms, shapes, darks & lights, can be meaningful, stirring, even if they're not literally representative.