Optics

The Flattering Illusion

‘An eminent philosopher among my friends, who can dignify even your ugly furniture by lifting it into the serene light of science, has shown me this pregnant little fact. Your pier-glass or extensive surface of polished steel made to be rubbed by a housemaid, will be minutely and multitudinously scratched in all directions; but place now against it a lighted candle as a centre of illumination, and lo! the scratches will seem to arrange themselves in a fine series of concentric circles round that little sun. It is demonstrable that the scratches are going everywhere impartially and it is only your candle which produces the flattering illusion of a concentric arrangement, its light falling with an exclusive optical selection. These things are a parable’. 

George Eliot, Middlemarch, Chapter 27.

Simon Schubert

Simon Schubert (born 1976) is an artist based in Cologne, Germany, his birthplace. From 1997 to 2004 he trained at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in the sculpture class of Irmin Kamp.  Inspired by Surrealism as well as by Samuel Beckett, Schuberts works imagine architectonical settings, common situations and objects, whereas the material he uses are either simple or sophisticated - white paper folded or mixed media arrangements. Some of his paper foldings entered the West Collection, Oaks, PA, while the Saatchi Collection, London, owns sculptural works in mixed media. (Wikipedia)

The Shadowgraph

Schlieren photography is a visual process that is used to photograph the flow of fluids of varying density. Invented by the German physicist August Toepler in 1864 to study supersonic motion, it is widely used in aeronautical engineering to photograph the flow of air around objects. Its role is changing due to the increasing use of computational fluid dynamics, which reduces the need for all such experimental fluid flow measurement techniques.The basic optical schlieren system uses light from a single collimated source shining on, or from behind, a target object. Variations in refractive index caused by density gradients in the fluid distort the collimated light beam. This distortion creates a spatial variation in the intensity of the light, which can be visualised directly with a shadowgraph system.

Shadowgraph is an optical method that reveals non-uniformities in transparent media like air, water, or glass. It is related to, but simpler than, the schlieren and schlieren photography methods that perform a similar function. Shadowgraph is a type of flow visualisation.

De Artificiali Perspectiva

De Artificiali Perspectiva, or Anamorphosis (1991)

Directed by The Brothers Quay

Animation techniques are used to elucidate anamophosis, a method of depiction that uses the rules of perspective to systematically distort an image. When looked at from a different angle or in a curved mirror, the distorted image appears normal. Using animation of three-dimensional objects, the filmmakers demonstrate the basic effects of anamorphosis and reveal the hidden meanings that lurk within selected works of art, including a chair by Jean François Nicéron (c.1638), an anonymous painting of saints (c.1550), the fresco "Saint Francis of Paola" (1642) by Emmanuel Maignan in the cloister of Santa Trinità in Rome, and the painting "The Ambassadors" (1533) by Hans Holbein the younger.

The Light Fantastic

Untitled (Girl) by Zabka Britton. White light transmission, film. 5 in x 4 in. 1980-1981.

Tigirl by Margaret Benyon. Reflection hologram, glass. 16 in x 12 in. 1985.

The Kiss by Lloyd G. Cross. 120° integral stereogram (Multiplex), film. 9 1/2 in x 30 in. 1973.

Lindow Man by Richmond Holographic Studios Ltd. Reflection hologram, glass. 12 in x 16 in. 1987. Green image showing the remains of a mummified, Iron Age man, dating to approximately 55BCE, found in a peat bog near Wilmslow, England in 1983.

Parc des Folies a la Villette by A. P. Holographie. White light transmission, film. 38 in x 40 in. Circa 1983. 3-D architect's model, produced to promote this science park in Paris; rainbow-colored image.

Selections from the MIT Museum exhibit: Holography: The Light Fantastic, "an awe-inspiring sampling of twenty-three historic holograms from the MIT Museum holography collection—the world's largest. Scientific and artistic applications of holography in diverse fields such as medicine, engineering, and retailing as well as architecture, portraiture and abstract art are represented."