Assignment #1 - perspective
Due Tuesday, April 19 (in class)
CS 48N - The Science of Art
Winter Quarter, 2005
Your first assignment is to write a 4-5 page double-spaced paper on one of the
topics listed in the first section below. Alternatively, you may do one of the
projects listed in the second section. You may also choose another topic if
you clear it with me in advance. (Remember that at least two of your four
assignments for the quarter must be written papers. I will give you a similar
set of choices between paper topics and project ideas for the next three
Papers must be typed or computer-printed, not handwritten. They will be graded
on effort, content, and style.
In writing your paper, I encourage you to make use of the books listed in the
course bibliography (handout #2). I have copies
of each of these books, which I am willing to lend out. I also encourage you
to make use of the Stanford libraries. Don't forget to cite your sources,
using footnotes and/or a list of references, as appropriate. Finally, I am
happy to meet with you, during office hours or by appointment, to discuss your
paper and to offer suggestions for additional readings.
In addition to the written assignment, a few of you will be asked to briefly
present your ideas in class on the next scheduled Student Day (April 28). Your
presentation is not intended to be a reading of your paper, but a proper talk.
In other words, it should be lively and should engage the class in discussion.
Martin Kemp, in the first part of The Science of Art, analyzes
Massacio's use of perspective in the Trinity fresco from both a
technical standpoint and a programmatic standpoint. The former derives a 3D
model from the painting, while the latter explains how Massacio uses
perspective to differentiate the mortal and immortal worlds. Apply Kemp's
methods to analyze the use of perspective in a painting not covered in Kemp or
in class. Gardner's book might be a good sourcebook from which to choose.
Consider both technical and programmatic standpoints. I am not, expecting you
to make a complete geometric analysis of the painting's perspectival
construction, as Kemp does, although you are welcome to try. (I realize that
Kemp's book is on backorder at the campus bookstore. I just asked the Math/CS
library to place it on reserve. If you can't find it there or elsewhere in the
Stanford libraries, I can lend you my copy.)
Write a "pamphlet", addressed to your fellow Renaissance artists, telling them
why they should use the newly invented science of linear perspective
in their paintings. Feel free to appeal to the general zeitgeist of the
Renaissance, but also enumerate as many specific advantages of perspective as
you can think of - both technical and programmatic.
Philip Steadman, in a paper reprinted in The Artful Eye, tries to
prove that Vermeer used a camera obscura to generate the nearly
perfect perspectives of his paintings, as many art historians have suspected.
Part of his proof consists of building a physical replica of the room in which
many of Vermeer's paintings are set. Read Steadman's account and make a
critical evaluation of it. (This book is also on reserve in the Math/CS
library, or I can lend you my copy.) Do you think he is right? Why or why
David Hockney, in his 2001 book
Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters
advances the startling theory that many Renaissance artists, including van
Eyck, Holbein the Younger, and Caravaggio, employed optical devices such as
concave mirrors to project images onto their canvases, which they then traced
or painted over. If correct, this theory completely changes our interpretation
of these artists - indeed of a whole period in Western art. However, the
theory has been strongly criticized by art historians. One of Hockney's most
vocal critics is Dr. David Stork, a local researcher and occasional lecturer at
Stanford; his extensive web site about the controversy is
Read Hockney's book and Stork's critique, then make a critical evaluation of
them. (By the way, since Dr. Stork is local, he might consent to an
Kemp defines anamorphic images as perspectives that "assume undistorted
appearance only when viewed from a particular position" (p. 110). Anamorphic
images have gone in and out of fashion several times during the history of
Western art. Research and write a paper about this fascinating topic. Begin
with Kemp, p. 208-212, but look for other sources.
Multi-point perspectives, introduced during the Renaissance to reduce
distortion in large paintings (like Raphael's School of Athens), have been used
by artists for many purposes. 20th-century artists and cartoon animators have
introduced new uses for them, and recent papers in the computer graphics
research literature have proposed yet more uses. Write a paper about
multi-point perspectives, focusing on one or more of these uses or surveying
the entire subject.
Research and write a paper about a non-planar perspective presentation system.
Examples are Cinerama, Imax and Omnimax movie formats, planetarium domes (those
giant Zeiss projectors), panoramic images and movies on the web (most of these
use the QuickTime VR format), and so on.
Trace the historical development of projection systems, whether linear
perspective or not, of a non-Western-European culture. This will require some
research in the libraries.
Some non-writing projects
Make an accurate perspective drawing of a reasonably complicated
three-dimensional scene. Use a "correct" linear perspective construction
method such as the one presented in class. For this project, you will need to
know key dimensions of your scene in both plan and elevation, so choose your
scene carefully. A furnished but uncluttered bedroom has about the right
amount of complexity. Your submitted drawing should show your station point,
vanishing points if you used them, and all working lines (drawn lightly).
Draw neatly and use a straightedge, at least for your working lines.
Reproduce one of Brunneleschi's panels, now lost, in which he
demonstrated to his amazed contemporaries his ability to construct correct
linear perspective views. Kemp's book tells you how. Include the peephole and
mirror. Since the Baptistry of Florence is not nearby, choose another building
as your subject.
Model and render the 3D scene corresponding to a famous painting. Use a
commercially available modeling and rendering system such as 3D Studio Max or a
freeware/shareware modeling program you find on the web. For an extra kick,
script, render, and record on video a flyaround of the scene. Alternatively,
convert it into a form that can be navigated interactively on a PC (or Mac).
Beware: many paintings do not have a single, consistent 3D interpretation!
Build and demonstrate in class one of the perspective machines described in
Chapter 4 of Kemp. Choose wisely. An artist's glass (as in figure 330) is too
easy, and I already showed you one in class. Cigoli's machine (figure 351)
might be too hard. I'd love to see a demonstration of the machines in figures
331 or 332. The pantograph in figure 355 also looks interesting. Be
forewarned that unless your device is sturdily built, it won't be stiff enough
to make a reasonable drawing.
Copyright © 2005 Marc Levoy
April 11, 2005 03:38:14 PM