The Death of Perspective
June 9, 2006 5:38 AM   Subscribe

The Death of Perspective. Among the greatest achievements of the renaissance artists was the perfection of the art of perspective: Giving the appearance of depth to a flat surface. Felice Varini uses perspective to do the opposite.
posted by empath (38 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Doh... I forgot to change the title to 'Denial of Perspective'. Oh well.. cool stuff anyway.
posted by empath at 5:39 AM on June 9, 2006

Wow! At first I thought the first set of photos just had red lines super-imposed on them, then I scrolled down.

posted by splatta at 5:51 AM on June 9, 2006

Very cool. It's a bit tricky to find out from his site to find out where his pieces are located, though. I'd love to see them in real life. That interface is beyond evil.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 5:54 AM on June 9, 2006

great post! This one's my favorite. Extremely convincing.
posted by pmbuko at 5:55 AM on June 9, 2006

I believe they are all in france.

I'd really like to see a video.
posted by empath at 6:04 AM on June 9, 2006

I'd love to do something like that- my new house for uni is gonna get de-perspectivised all over the shop
posted by D J Robertstein at 6:06 AM on June 9, 2006

The easiest way to do this would be with a projector, I assume, although there's always the problem of the darn shadow appearing wherever you try to trace...

It's very cool, by the way.
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:10 AM on June 9, 2006

Neat. When I was looking at them initially, I hadn't read the text, and I was all confused. 'What have they photoshopped those lines in to highlight?' I kept asking myself.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:13 AM on June 9, 2006

Kinda reminds me of Gordon Matta Clark (my boyfriend.)
posted by DenOfSizer at 6:17 AM on June 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

they're cool, but unless you hit it from the right angle you'll never realize what it is really.

i noticed in Tokyo that some large old painted screens have a perfect viewing angle as well, where what's painted on all 3 matches and flows together.
posted by amberglow at 6:26 AM on June 9, 2006

This is tremendous. I too want to see them in person.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:33 AM on June 9, 2006

Interesting post, thanks.
posted by caddis at 6:40 AM on June 9, 2006

If you go to his index, you can click on each work and then if you click "ouvir" under the second drop down menu, you can see pix of it from the side.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:47 AM on June 9, 2006

from one of the websites: "Sure, Varini may share the same ‘Dad….I Dug another hole…‘ syndrome that Christo suffers from - endlessly repeating past successes - but fuck it, Albers spent decades drawing squares within squares and the world ain’t hurting for it."

Yup. Cool stuff. I'm glad I went beyond the "Felice Varini" site though. That web designer should be forced to view life through a fresnel lens.
posted by beelzbubba at 6:48 AM on June 9, 2006

Absolutely fascinating! Very much my kinda (geeky) art. He's like the evil twin of Sidewalk Art Guy.

But, thinking along those lines, why stick with simple geometrics? Has he done any pieces that are portraits or still lifes? I imagine that'd look pretty crazy to have a Mona Lisa hovering in the hallway. Who knows, maybe they just don't read well.

And, yeah, I think anybody could do this with a projector and a little patience. (Not meant as snark, btw, but rather motivation for us less artsy types to try some of this.)
posted by LordSludge at 7:32 AM on June 9, 2006

Fascinating stuff:

At first it looks as if the pattern might be Photoshopped onto the image until you see the views from other perspectives; then the remarkable finesse with which Varini has created his patterned spaces becomes apparent.

And an excellent selection of links. Well posted, empath.
posted by languagehat at 7:40 AM on June 9, 2006

I'm curious how they look in person. In particular, how large the "sweet spot" is, where you can see the effect perfectly. It's not quite as cool if you have to close one eye to see the effect, or if it only works for people who are 5'8 tall.
posted by smackfu at 7:41 AM on June 9, 2006

Hey cool, just in time. I'm working on a renovation and new colour scheme for a psychiatric hospital in Oxford - I'm sure the patients will get a real kick out of a paint job like this!
posted by Flashman at 7:54 AM on June 9, 2006

LordSludge, this guy does something similar, but with figurative art. I think I like Varini's geometric shapes better, though. They seem so precisely rendered, there's something jarring and hallucinegenic about them.
One of the commenters in the last link pointed to the work of George Rousse. I think he may be doing the same sort of thing, but I can't for the life of me figure out what I'm looking at in half these photos. (Well, I am pre-coffee...)
posted by maryh at 7:57 AM on June 9, 2006

Kinda reminds me of Gordon Matta Clark (my boyfriend.)

Didn't he pass on to the great big chopped up house in the sky, about 25 years ago?
The CCA had a very good retrospective of his (GMC's) work a couple of years ago.
posted by Flashman at 8:02 AM on June 9, 2006

Very cool, and I agree with lh, well posted.
posted by OmieWise at 8:05 AM on June 9, 2006

This is neat. Trompe l'oiel for the pomo set. I likey.
posted by bardic at 8:11 AM on June 9, 2006

John Pfahl was doing this photographically about 30 years ago. (Not to say there's anything wrong with doing something over and over and over. Art history would be pretty empty if artists didn't use the same ideas again and again.)
posted by johngumbo at 9:09 AM on June 9, 2006

It's not quite as cool if you have to close one eye to see the effect

If you've been monocular your whole life, it would be kinda cool to enjoy a rare advantage over people with normal stereo vision, though....
posted by pax digita at 9:29 AM on June 9, 2006

I would imagine most of them must be pretty forgiving for where you're viewing from. Things like St. Peter's, where the outside rows of columns all visually line up when you're standing in a certain place, are pretty forgiving.

Great links! I love the circles in the hallway.
posted by occhiblu at 10:00 AM on June 9, 2006

Very interesting and impressive - especially if he does not use a projector and instead actually calculates out all the lines via math...
posted by zoogleplex at 10:01 AM on June 9, 2006

Is anybody else reminded of Labyrinth?
posted by kimota at 10:13 AM on June 9, 2006


I'm not really seeing the Matta-Clark connection, but (when viewed from the 'right' angle), Varini's work looks a little like Fred Sandback's (who is, I think, a total fucking genius).

(Flashman - you're dead right about that Matta-Clark retrospective being good, though. Had a really profound effect on me, especially in the immediate aftermath - I looked at the buildings around me in a completely new way. Though, on clicking your link, I'm talking about the retrospective at this CCA, not your one! Probably the same touring show, though - subtitled The Space Between, if I remember.)
posted by jack_mo at 10:49 AM on June 9, 2006

Neat, though it took some navigating and then the final link to make it entirely understandable for the non-French speaking.

That said, it seemed well done indoors, but the grand outdoor version seemed to, pardon the pun, fall flat.
posted by Atreides at 11:26 AM on June 9, 2006

The MoMA, which briefly relocated to Queens during reconstruction of its Manhattan location, employed this technique on the rooftop of the factory it moved into, painting the museum's logo on various uneven structures (HVAC units, etc.) so that, when viewed from an approaching 7 train, the logo would eventually line up and then separate again as one got closer. Here and here.
posted by adamms222 at 11:30 AM on June 9, 2006

Yeah, come to think of it, Channel 4 something similar with their inter-show promo spots - but they don't work very well.
The best I can figure about them is that it's somebody's good idea suffocated by other people who just didn't get it.

Metafilter: It's not quite as cool if you have to close one eye to see the effect
posted by Flashman at 12:24 PM on June 9, 2006

I saw one of these in downtown dallas earlier this year, painted on the side of an overpass.
Disconcerting to look at. It made my eyes feel weird.

No idea who put it there though.
posted by Lord_Pall at 12:50 PM on June 9, 2006

Cool, thanks!
posted by carter at 2:11 PM on June 9, 2006

Wow, this is brilliant. It makes me want to go all over downtown with some masking tape, a projector. . . wait, no, too much work. Thanks empath!
posted by mygothlaundry at 4:26 PM on June 9, 2006

What did they do with that MoMA building, anyways? It was pretty nice for a temp structure, if a bit small.
posted by smackfu at 4:44 PM on June 9, 2006

Fantastic stuff.
posted by cortex at 4:58 PM on June 9, 2006

Lovely, lovely, thanks, empath.

All the other links in comments are great too and round up different perspectives on perspective. (It had to be done).
posted by bru at 8:08 PM on June 9, 2006

Hmph. The piker didn't even bother taking a 40-foot brush to that hill in the background.
posted by dansdata at 5:43 PM on June 10, 2006

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