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Guernica 3D
November 15, 2011 3:31 AM   Subscribe

Check this out really quick, it's basically one of the most famous paintings of the 20th century presented in 3D, and you don't even have to wear glasses!

Guernica 3D: In 1937, during the Spanish civil war, the fascists devastated the town of Guernica with aerial bombings executed by the Nazi Luftwaffe.

Picasso's painting Guernica was his reaction to the tragedy.
posted by malapropist (77 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is a double, but the old link from that post is dead...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:38 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


and since it's several years old, there are probably many who haven't seen it. Very cool.

From one of PBS' Guernica pages, regarding the tension between art and politics:
"There was, of course, a great deal of argument about whether or not it was really as effective a political statement as it could have been if it had been more accessible, if it had been more traditional. And also whether it was really the strongest artistic statement it could have been if it weren't so tied up with a specific political agenda.

When the painting was on tour around the world, there was a great deal of interest on the part of Communist Party members and Communist intellectuals about whether or not this painting would be able to communicate with anybody of the proletarian or worker class. And so you find that there was a lot of testimony collected over the years from people of the working class who saw Guernica. And they responded to it very powerfully, found that they were really just awestruck by this particular painting. It did seem to have an effect on people who you wouldn't think very likely to react in a positive way to this kind of elitist painting."
posted by taz at 3:57 AM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


3D adds nothing to this. In fact, it diminishes it.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:05 AM on November 15, 2011 [15 favorites]


3D adds nothing to this. In fact, it diminishes it.

Hmm... I think it might have value in particular as a kind of visual gateway for children: to help them *see* what is there.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:22 AM on November 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


I thought it was interesting in terms of viewing each bit as a discrete "object," but I would be surprised if the animator considered it a question of adding to or improving the original so much as using a certain set of tools to examine it – a bit like a "detail" allows you to focus on something specific within a painting.
posted by taz at 4:25 AM on November 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Probably one of the greatest works of art ever.
posted by Renoroc at 4:33 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmm... I think it might have value in particular as a kind of visual gateway for children: to help them *see* what is there.

No better than actually highlighting the elements. Children are pretty quick on the pickup without gimmickry.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:37 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


3D adds nothing to this. In fact, it diminishes it.

Disagree.
posted by DU at 4:40 AM on November 15, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm pretty sure this is 3-D...and definitely NOT 4-D(imensional...the 4th being time).
But why is it 3-D, as the element of time is a 2:54min movie?
posted by hal_c_on at 4:42 AM on November 15, 2011


Very Time Cube, hal_c_on.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:46 AM on November 15, 2011


Is this really 3-D if I don't have the little glasses and I can't wave my hands around and pretend to grab at something sticking out? Science aside.
posted by autoclavicle at 4:48 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"There was, of course, a great deal of argument about whether or not it was really as effective a political statement

Depsite Picasso's cleverly designed political statement, Franco gained control of the Spanish government in 1937 and maintained this control every year until he died in 1975 (and when Spain stopped being a fascist dictatorship). Even with Picasso making political posters against him, Franco was never beaten in any election!

So what is there to argue about? Guernica was useless as a political statement: It had no influence on the course of Spanish politics at the time it was produced or for decades afterwards.

It is, however, a powerful piece demonstrating the futility of artistic protest.
posted by three blind mice at 4:57 AM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


We used to have a print of Guernica hanging on the wall of a conference room in my office. It seemed inappropriate somehow.
posted by octothorpe at 5:05 AM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


three blind mice: “So what is there to argue about? Guernica was useless as a political statement: It had no influence on the course of Spanish politics at the time it was produced or for decades afterwards.”

Because "influence" apparently only counts if you are the de facto tyrant imposing your will on the populace. In the same way, the Catalans had no "influence" for four decades. The artists and musicians of Barcelona, from Joan Miro to Pau Casals, had no "influence," because they were not dictators. Their long history of resistance, their long struggle against oppression, the traditions build up over four decades whereby they insisted that they had identity despite it being denied them publicly – no "influence."

This seems like a very short-sighted view of history and of peoples. Do you really think that only tyrants and dictators influence politics?
posted by koeselitz at 5:10 AM on November 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


Disagree.

What, then, does adding 3D to Guernica add to your understanding of the work? Please explain.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:17 AM on November 15, 2011


Just what I was writing, koeslitz: "Well, of course every protest is futile until it isn't." But whatever the outcome, when artists contribute works that are also political statements it also helps to negate the "history is written by the winners" law just a little bit, and offers a more timeless commentary. After all, Franco tried really hard to get the work returned to Spain, presumably because he didn't like what sort of history "Guernica in exile" wrote about him.
posted by taz at 5:17 AM on November 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


3D adds nothing to this. In fact, it diminishes it.

Agree.

Picasso would have used perspective if he wanted it. Interpreting his abstract shapes as actual objects just seems juvenile.
posted by CaseyB at 5:18 AM on November 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


It is, however, a powerful piece demonstrating the futility of artistic protest.

Well said. Let's have no more of this nonsense, then.
posted by Wolof at 5:19 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It could be (and surely is) an effective statement without having to be on the winning side.

I'm with Thorzdad on the 3D (I can't see it from here, but I've seen it before). If anything, it biases you towards seeing the elements as real physical objects in a real space, which is not helpful.
posted by Segundus at 5:20 AM on November 15, 2011


There is the story that, during the Occupation of France, a German Officer talking to Picasso pointed to an image of Guernica and asked "Did you do this?" Picasso replied "No, you did." Which sounds apocryphal, but which ought to be true.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:27 AM on November 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


This fell flat for me.
posted by odinsdream at 5:29 AM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dora Maar recorded the creation of Guernica (scroll down). As an understanding of how Picasso worked this is possibly more instructive as could be the painters own words:
Painting is not there just to decorate the walls of a flat. It is a means of waging offensive and defensive war against the enemy.
posted by adamvasco at 5:35 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't really get the hate for this. It's an interesting experiment -- separating and "inflating" the parts to examine their "physicality." I am not sure it says all that much about the painting, but it allows you to look at some the detail in a different sort of way (I saw some things in the woman with the dead child I hadn't seen before), and, I think, validates Picasso's decision to flatten his images into a plane for maximum effect.

Frankly, if it gets people looking at the painting and talking about it,, I am all for it....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:36 AM on November 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


Creepy, the way they made the figures rounded and puffy. Sorry, the talk about educating kids with a 3D representation just seems like a graphics gimmick looking to justify itself somehow.

In other news, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.
posted by aught at 5:36 AM on November 15, 2011


It is, however, a powerful piece demonstrating the futility of artistic protest.

This is either the dumbest or most cynical thing I have read in a long time.
posted by aught at 5:40 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't really get the hate for this.

I think the causal use of the word "hate" to mean "don't like as much as I do" does harm to online discourse.
posted by Edogy at 5:46 AM on November 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


The Picasso museum in Paris has a very large section (or an entire floor, can't recall so clearly now) that was dedicated to Guernica... the photographs, sketches and cartoons for the large scale painting interspersed with bits about what happened. I have a sense of vast space and horses - I guess that's as 3D as it gets for me - saw it early 2006

on preview, adamvasco has the reason why - the exhibition I saw was all about Dora Maar
posted by infini at 5:47 AM on November 15, 2011


Sorry, the talk about educating kids with a 3D representation just seems like a graphics gimmick looking to justify itself somehow.

As the person who made the comment you're referring to, I can only say that I have no vested interest in defending or "justifying" any "graphics gimmick", but I do know that this sort of dissection of the separate elements of a work as abstract as Guernica would almost certainly be of help to children (and heck, to adults too, according to one of the comments upthread) in seeing and attaining a deeper understanding of the painting.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:48 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know what you guys are talking about; I thought this was great. If someone were to do similar 3D-style closeup analyses of other detailed paintings, I'd watch every single one of them.

Do I want to walk through a museum and see the videos instead of the real thing? Of course not. But when I'm trying to figure out what the painting is all about, this does it for me.
posted by phunniemee at 5:52 AM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


It doesn't have to "add to" the painting to be visually interesting on its own merits. And I really don't understand how it could diminish it. Is Guernica somehow less of a work of art to you now that you've seen the video?
posted by rocket88 at 5:53 AM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was fortunate enough to see the original when it was in the MoMA in New York in the late 70's. It was liked being kicked in the stomach, I've never had such an intense, emotional reaction to a painting before. I really don't think there's a way some 3d gimmick can ever add to that experience.
posted by Mcable at 5:53 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Picasso also said:
There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.
posted by adamvasco at 5:54 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is Guernica somehow less of a work of art to you now that you've seen the video?

No, but to me it's like someone just made a 3 minute video explaining why a joke is funny.
posted by Mcable at 5:59 AM on November 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well, I liked this. I'm not very good at examining and appreciating discrete details in paintings and liked how this video was able to wordlessly point them out to you with the slight shift in perspective. I also feel like for the first time I was really able to appreciate the horror of the scene Picasso was illustrating here, something I never really felt in examining it before. Nothing beats the artist's original work, of course, but I feel like this video gave me some fresh eyes for next time I encounter it.
posted by word_virus at 6:06 AM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I am an, ahem, art fan, but I also have some seriously, seriously godawful spacial orientation. Looking at something like the original Guernica, I understand what is going on and the technique and use of color and historical context and all that jazz, but as far as being able to really get the individual figures, I'm lost in the woods. This helped out quite a bit.
posted by griphus at 6:11 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have been lucky enough to have seen a lot of painting and sculptures. For me, no matter how well I know a piece of art from studying it in books or reproductions, the emotions elicited by the real article in front of me are enormously increased. I have no trouble believing what Taz said earlier:

And so you find that there was a lot of testimony collected over the years from people of the working class who saw Guernica. And they responded to it very powerfully, found that they were really just awestruck by this particular painting. It did seem to have an effect on people who you wouldn't think very likely to react in a positive way to this kind of elitist painting.
posted by francesca too at 6:12 AM on November 15, 2011


> Is Guernica somehow less of a work of art to you now that you've seen the video?

No, but to me it's like someone just made a 3 minute video explaining why a joke is funny.


Some people need that explanation, though. If you're not one, then great; this is for the people who do need it, and then you can both enjoy Guernica together.

(And yes, I do know people who actually need to have explained to them why certain jokes are funny.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:13 AM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's kind of interesting to watch, but I would never use it to teach anyone about the painting for a couple of reasons... besides the added curves, mass, movement, music, etc., at about 1:53 we see the back of one of the elements and there are lines added, all of which means that you're not experiencing the original piece at all, imo.
posted by Huck500 at 6:13 AM on November 15, 2011


I was ready to poo-poo this, but it was kind of neat. While I recognize the importance of Picasso and his influence, I don't usually enjoy his work aesthetically please don't hate me so this was a new way to get me to examine a painting I have always classified as "important but not enjoyable".
posted by pointystick at 6:16 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the causal use of the word "hate" to mean "don't like as much as I do" does harm to online discourse.

I was using the word "hate" to indicate "showing up in a thread to merely state how much I dislike/don't care/disagree in a nonsubstantive manner with the subject of the post." Which is, frankly, irritating. If you are going to take it on, put some effort into it.

Maybe "hate" is the wrong word and someone wants to pose something equally short and pithy for this annoying behavior.

Back to the topic -- as I said above, I am not sure this really adds all that much to the study of the painting or Picasso's work or the history of art, but it was an interesting way to pull a complicated image apart and look at the pieces. Is it gimicky? Yeah. Is it fun? Yeah. Does it detract from anything? Not that I see, but maybe someone wants to explicate.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:24 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is an incredible work of art on its own. It needs no 3D help, no turning it up to 11.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:32 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think this is a much better "3D" rendering of Guernica, also featured previously on MeFi. Plus, it's got Dali, Escher and Duran Duran...what more could you want?
posted by iamkimiam at 6:45 AM on November 15, 2011


I like Picasso's work, and this painting particularly. As an artist myself, I see nothing wrong with this little hommage. It's an interesting idea and obviously someone put a lot of work into it. Whether or not the 3D treatment can assist in the understanding of the original work is moot, certainly, but to condemn it for what it is seems pointless. Maybe it doesn't help you, but it might be interesting for others and lead to a further exploration of Picasso's work or the history behind this piece. Ain't nothing wrong with that.

Now let's see someone deconstruct a Pollock similarly.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:50 AM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of all the painting out there to do this to, why Guernica?
posted by KokuRyu at 7:00 AM on November 15, 2011


3D adds nothing to this. In fact, it diminishes it.

I suppose anyone is free to make derivative works of art that's in the public domain, but I agree this 3D thing doesn't add insight. For one thing, by turning some of the shapes it adds detail that Picasso never put into the painting, so it's making stuff up. You could do the same thing with The Night Watch, or Las Meninas, or the Last Supper, or any great painting. You could also make the figures in the paintings talk, sing or dance. But in every case, including the 3D-ization, you'd be inventing material not created, or intended, by the artist.
posted by beagle at 7:04 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


GenjiandProust: “I was using the word ‘hate’ to indicate ‘showing up in a thread to merely state how much I dislike/don't care/disagree in a nonsubstantive manner with the subject of the post.’ Which is, frankly, irritating. If you are going to take it on, put some effort into it.”

I am not going to pick sides on this – I'm not sure how important the dispute is – but I don't think this is a fair characterization. People disagreed with the idea of turning this painting into a 3D image, but they did so respectfully, and they stated their reasons, demonstrating clearly that they were open to discussion about it. To ask for anything more is basically to ask that people who disagree with anything at all just remain silent; and that seems like an unfortunate direction to go in to me.
posted by koeselitz at 7:09 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Off Wikipedia (emphasis mine):
A tapestry copy of Picasso's Guernica is displayed on the wall of the UN building in New York City, at the entrance to the Security Council room. Commissioned in 1955 by Nelson Rockefeller, and placed on loan to the United Nations by the Rockefeller estate in 1985,[20] the tapestry is less monochromatic than the original, and uses several shades of brown. On 5 February 2003 a large blue curtain was placed to cover this work, so that it would not be visible in the background when Colin Powell and John Negroponte gave press conferences at the United Nations.[21] On the following day, it was claimed that the curtain was placed there at the request of television news crews, who had complained that the wild lines and screaming figures made for a bad backdrop, and that a horse's hindquarters appeared just above the faces of any speakers. Some diplomats, however, in talks with journalists claimed that the Bush Administration pressured UN officials to cover the tapestry, rather than have it in the background while Powell or other U.S. diplomats argued for war on Iraq.[22]
I wonder why a powerful reminder of the horrors of war was hung there in the first place? Christ.
posted by flippant at 7:11 AM on November 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


I wonder why a powerful reminder of the horrors of war was hung there in the first place? Christ.

Because, as another Spaniard, George Santayana, wrote: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It's the Security Council. Their job is to maintain peace. That room should be packed with as many reminders of the horros of war as possible.
posted by beagle at 7:21 AM on November 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've heard there are people now who will not watch black and white movies; you have to colorize great films or these guys just can't make themselves watch them. I suppose they will eventually demand three-dimensional colorized versions with modernized soundtracks and interpolated sex scenes between CGI stand-ins.

Maybe a three-dimensional fucking around with a great painting is useful in the way a Cliff Notes plot summary of "King Lear" is useful. Start with parts. Make sure the kiddies have something to focus on. You might need to make two-dimensional painting visible like this to people who never learned how to see a painting, or who are just too lazy to see anything that doesn't jump up and explain itself in simple terms. "I am a great painting. Here is why..."

But of course the risk is that you will send them all back to the original with an entirely wrong idea of the painting, because you aren't Picasso, you're just an animator.
posted by pracowity at 7:24 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I thought this was a neat exercise. But my understanding of Picasso was that he found new ways of interpreting three-dimensional forms in a two-dimensional space. Doesn't rendering them in 3D, neat as it is, defeat the purpose somewhat?
posted by bicyclefish at 7:43 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Everybody can do whatever they want with a painting.
Picasso did it, time and time again.

So whoever did this 3D thing is perfectly allowed to do it, or to make a Guernica in chocolate or to un-picasso every figure and to replace them with realistic ones (I'd guess somebody did it).

But what this 3D thing supposes is that Picasso couldn't think in 3D, so he made Guernica flat and this thing is "better" or "helps kids understand it". It isn't and it doesn't. This is deeply wrong. Picasso is a great sculptor. He is always thinking in 3D. So what he did with Guernica is to use this huge space to imprint an emotion on the viewer. His whole genius is bent on using this flat surface with false perspectives and distortions to convey horror and revulsion.

A bookstore in my neighborhood sells 3D statues of painting by Dali, Picasso, Klimt, Egyptian figures, name it. So as a gimmick, or even as an artistic interpretation, this 3D creation is in "why not?" territory. If somebody wants to do it, if people like it or buy it, why not?

But as a step toward toward "getting" Guernica, it fails miserably. I agree with Thorzad. Obviously, the author doesn't get Guernica or can't accept to be overwhelmed by it. 3D-ing it is a way of taking control of the work and transforming it into something more palatable. But Picasso expressly did something unpalatable.

The only way to get Guernica is to surrender to it. It's incredibly powerful and disturbing. It is difficult to grasp because such an horror is alien to being human. And this is what Picasso tells us: the people who did this are not part of what humanity is (or should be). This is the intended message. And History proved him right. The same people who are responsible for Guernica are also responsible for Treblinka, Sobibor, Auschwitz.

We have to remember that when Picasso painted Guernica, in 1937, most of Europe and America were tolerating Hitler and the Nazis. What we see as trivial today (Nazism is monstruous) was not common knowledge at the time. Nazism was annoying, not alien.

So the judgement of the artist in 1937 is prescient and was vindicated 100 times over. Picasso encompasses WWII two years before it began and eight years before its horrors are revealed to the World.

Today Guernica embodies one of humanity proudest moments: at least someone detected evil early and tried to warn us. We all hope that we'll be on Picasso's side if it happens again. Not bad for "the futility of artistic protest".
posted by bru at 7:46 AM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Beagle:
I suppose anyone is free to make derivative works of art that's in the public domain, but I agree this 3D thing doesn't add insight. For one thing, by turning some of the shapes it adds detail that Picasso never put into the painting, so it's making stuff up. You could do the same thing with The Night Watch, or Las Meninas, or the Last Supper, or any great painting. You could also make the figures in the paintings talk, sing or dance. But in every case, including the 3D-ization, you'd be inventing material not created, or intended, by the artist.

This.

Look, if some people have to make that journey to "get it", fine, but I think they're missing something crucial by reinterpreting a 2d image as a 3d object. It's really exactly the opposite of what cubists were trying to do with their work, which was all about being aware of 3 or even 4 dimensions compressed into a rectangle of canvas. The compression and what happens because of it is what's important, not decoding it back to the original source.

Sorry, cranky art school grad here. (On preview, bru nails other aspects of it.)
posted by Mcable at 7:55 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obviously, the author doesn't get Guernica or can't accept to be overwhelmed by it. 3D-ing it is a way of taking control of the work and transforming it into something more palatable.

I don't think we know this about the creator of the video. We don't know that the creator didn't "get" Guernica or was "taking control" or making it "more palatable." I did some cursory looking, and didn't find any kind of statement of intent, so this is all projection

-- maybe the video artist really hated the flatness and wanted a 3D image

-- maybe the video artist really loved the panting and made this project as a way to examine it from a different angle

-- maybe the video artist was just playing around with making 3D structures from 2D images and figured "what the hell, Guernica is very flat; that would be fun/interesting/a technical challenge/easy to animate"

-- maybe the video artist felt that Guernica was opaque and needed a 3D treatment to be accessible to today's kids

-- maybe the video artist figured this might catch people's attention and get them to look at the original again.

It's not like we have a lot of information outside of the video; I think it's interesting that we are reacting so strongly to what this video is for when it may not be for anything much in particular...
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:20 AM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oddly enough, this reminded me of that Simpsons episode where they were rendered in 3D for part of it. I had the same sensation of "that was fun, but it just highlights why the flat representation suits the material better."

Having said that, this 3D exploration did not bother me; it's just a re-mix. Some re-mixes are great, some not so much; but most of them invite you take a fresh look at something -- even if it does just end up reinforcing your existing views.
posted by fikri at 8:21 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Take THAT, Guernica!"
posted by Parasite Unseen at 8:25 AM on November 15, 2011


I think Picasso would have been thrilled to see this.
posted by stbalbach at 8:42 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I cannot wait until this catches on.
+---------------------------------+
| ADMISSION                       |
| --------------                  |
| THE LOUVRE:                €10  |
| THE LOUVRE 3D:             €20  |
| THE LOUVRE UltraAVX 3D:    €35  |
+---------------------------------+

posted by mazola at 8:48 AM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


In 1974 Tony Shafrazi spray painted Guernica with the words "KILL LIES ALL" in red, protesting Richard Nixon's pardon of William Calley for the latter's actions during the My Lai massacre. Shafrazi went on to become a respected art dealer in NYC.

In 1970 the Art Workers Coalition unfurled the poster "And Babies?" in front of Guernica, in protest of the Vietnam War. This was the moment when "baby killers" started to become a common refrain for Vietnam Vets.

"Take THAT, Guernica!"
posted by stbalbach at 8:51 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


What, then, does adding 3D to Guernica add to your understanding of the work? Please explain.
It (literally) brought a tear to my eye. It's been quite a while since Guernica itself has done that to me.

Do you find that acceptable? Or should I slink off in philistinistic shame at how puerile my tastes are, that I was moved by this diminishing embarrassment of a knockoff is?
posted by Flunkie at 9:00 AM on November 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


bru: But what this 3D thing supposes is that Picasso couldn't think in 3D, so he made Guernica flat and this thing is "better" or "helps kids understand it".

No, it doesn't. That's a silly claim.

To all the purists claiming this work "adds nothing", "detracts", or in some other way lessens the world's inherent purity: put the needle back on your vinyl record, plug in your noise-cancelling headphones, and drown out what you don't want to hear. Others have different experiences and tastes, that you aren't really qualified to judge. You can judge them; it just isn't a verifiable Truth, as you wish to believe.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:00 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


besides the added curves, mass, movement, music, etc., at about 1:53 we see the back of one of the elements and there are lines added, all of which means that you're not experiencing the original piece at all, imo.

Watching a video on Youtube was my first clue, but thanks for leading me out of the abyss!
posted by rhizome at 10:09 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe a three-dimensional fucking around with a great painting is useful in the way a Cliff Notes plot summary of "King Lear" is useful.

Isn't Guernica just two-dimensional Cliff Notes on actual war?
posted by roquetuen at 10:16 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Those who can remember the past are condemned to repeat it anyway.
posted by jfuller at 10:19 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm tempted to think that at least some of the objection to this stems from a desire on the part of the individual to assert a closeness or sensitivity to the material that doesn't require this sort of mediated treatment. I say that only because I felt it myself, but after having told that part of myself to shut up I think flapjax has it. This works for a few reasons. One is that three-dimensional objects are easier for us to reason about visually. The second is that, in the case of very stylized paintings, I think it's easy for someone not familiar with the material to miss the forest for the trees and see brush strokes and colors and isolated shapes even as they miss out on the way of seeing that the painting depicts. This fly-through makes that way of seeing remarkably clear, so I think it serves as a really good key for the mapping that Picasso performs in his paintings between what we might imagine to be the actual subject and the representation it gets on the canvas. At the same time, I think that if someone wanted this type of thing for every subsequent Picasso they look at, then they're looking for something out visual art that those paintings will never be able to give them. I think that's just as respectable a position as the one that unequivocally prefers the original paintings, though admittedly it's one that I don't hold or really understand -- which makes me think that the art produced by someone with that viewpoint would be all the more interesting to witness. I think it's just as fair to find this uninspiring* and I think Mcable's comment does a pretty good job of nailing down why this sort of fails as a standalone artwork, but that's almost definitely going to be true of someone who's spent a lot of time thinking about Picasso's way of seeing and has probably already absorbed it to some extent. Something or someone taught you to do that, and I'm not sure what makes those methods better than this unless you're tied up in thinking that these works are sacred, in which case you're unreachable for a number of other reasons anyway.

Now, I do think that this piece was the wrong one to apply this treatment to. It does discard a lot of what makes "Guernica" powerful, and if it is functioning as a dispassionate investigation of Picasso's vision then it seems sort of weird to choose such an emotional work as the basis for that.

* Except if you think it "diminishes" it. That's some sanctimonious melodrama right there, buddy.
posted by invitapriore at 10:56 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Although I've never seen the original myself, I always assumed that the sheer size of the painting adds to the overall affect for the viewer. When your entire vision is taken up by the piece I think it has an immersive quality that can't be duplicated by the reprints I've seen on or offline.

Perhaps this sort of 3D visualization helps people get a sense of that immersion?

Also - the video isn't being presented as art, just another tool for analysis.
posted by Think_Long at 11:10 AM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm tempted to think that at least some of the objection to this stems from a desire on the part of the individual to assert a closeness or sensitivity to the material that doesn't require this sort of mediated treatment.

Yeah. Authenticity, Benjamin, old critique is old, etc.
posted by rhizome at 11:20 AM on November 15, 2011


maybe the video artist really hated the flatness and wanted a 3D image

In which case, the video artist should have his artistic license revoked for missing the entire point of cubism.
posted by Mcable at 11:33 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


The puffy 3-D rendering kept making me think of horrific Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons under a dark sky.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:38 AM on November 15, 2011


Yeah but can we port it into Little Big Planet?
posted by slackdog at 11:53 AM on November 15, 2011


I hope no one is getting upset over all this, I'm an artist and I love arguing this stuff. Some of you have made some some very good points, and my day has been enriched thinking and arguing about it with all of you.

But this is really one of my favorite works of art of all time. It had a profound effect on me when I first saw it. Let me give you a small example of why I think translating this to 3d adds nothing, and why a flat 2d surface is so important in this piece...

Up at the top of the canvas is a light fixture, a bare light bulb under a flat, conical shade that is the light source for the scene. Because Picasso was flattening the "3d reality" to a 2d image, he created a shape to represent the foreshortened shade with the exposed light bulb inside with stylized light rays coming from the bottom. That image of the light is a perfect cartoon of an all-seeing eye, looking down at what's going on and not intervening. It's almost like Picasso was saying, "God is watching, and he doesn't give a crap." Flattening the perspective as he did and stylizing the figures gave him the freedom to turn that light fixture into God's eye in a way that would never work in any other medium. It only works as a flat painting. That's why Picasso was brilliant, he saw the way this medium allowed him to use metaphors and analogies in a way a 3d work or a more realistic painting wouldn't.

Admittedly, the interpretation of "God is watching and he doesn't give a crap" was my personal reaction and a very chilling part of what I took away from the painting, but I hope you see what I mean.
posted by Mcable at 12:00 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, I liked it, and I don't think I'm necessarily an enormously stupid person who requires a lot of hand-holding and Noting of Cliffs to Understand Art. I have a basic education in art history -- which is to say, a decent grasp on the fundamentals, but I certainly don't study it now nor do I possess anything close to a degree in the subject -- so I was definitely well aware of Picasso's drive to depict all dimensions of a three-dimensional world within the constraints of a two-dimensional medium. Seeing the painting's imagery in this video was thought-provoking and highlighted elements of the piece that I hadn't noticed before.

Guernica is such an iconic work that, unless you've had the benefit of a class to explore it in detail, or even better, been lucky enough to see the piece in person, it can be easy for someone not steeped in art history to take it for granted. For someone like myself who has had neither experience, I see the video as a just a tool for people like me to (quite literally) consider angles of the work that might otherwise be overlooked when regarding the painting as a whole.

And I'm pretty sure that the legacy of Guernica is sturdy enough to remain unaffected by some 3D analysis.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:35 PM on November 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like the idea, and I would probably appreciate it more if I could explore the 3d painting at my leisure. As it is, it feels like a bit of a gimmick, like a demo for the artist's computer animation work. I'm sure that's not how it's meant.

Also, maybe some of the Guernica enthusiasts in here will be interested in God on Our Side, an animated short film in the style of the painting, whose context is instead the conflict between Palestine and Israel.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:08 PM on November 15, 2011


The 3-D/animation adds a lot for me.
My brain has a lot of trouble parsing the flat abstract painting. In fact, it is jarring and unsettling enough that I have to look away. The animation brings out the individual elements-oh, there is a horse there. stabbed?! - and helps me to see the Picasso was drawing a picture of a horrific event, and to get some idea of what is going on in it.
Now, I can go back and re-examine it.
posted by SLC Mom at 1:59 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


In fact, it is jarring and unsettling enough that I have to look away.

Just noting that this is an intended effect of the painting.
posted by aught at 2:14 PM on November 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am familiar with the painting, and the 3D visualization was, for me, a way to experience it on another level. I really enjoyed it and it helped me appreciate the work even more. The combination of the 3D and the soundtrack was quite moving for me personally, though I respect the views of those who found it unacceptable. Thanks for sharing this link...it is being saved to my favorites!
posted by Quasimike at 4:34 PM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Needs more Duran Duran.
posted by homunculus at 12:35 AM on November 16, 2011


Pepper Spray Guernica
via @aleximadrigal
posted by bru at 9:07 AM on November 21, 2011


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