Week2: Perspective by Joon Jang

Perspective may be the most important out of all the aspects of art.  It also is very fast in terms or its evolution.  Julian Beever’s pavement paintings use anamorphosis, where the viewpoint must be precise in order to see it “the right way.”  The usual linear perspective isn’t discarded, but rather modified in order to create this illusion of three-dimensionality.

Time square in time square

Time square in time square

Anamorphosis isn’t only for paintings. Donatello’s St. Mark, for example, is “out of proportion” when viewed at the street level.  It is said that for this reason, the linen guild that hired Donatello rejected the piece.  However, Donatello promised to make adjustments, and without altering the work, placed the piece in the niche that it was to be placed (higher than eye level), then presented it again to the guild after 15 days.  Seeing it from the viewpoint that Donatello intended the viewers to see, the guild accepted the work.
In some ways, I believe, anamorphic art is more real to life than other arts in the sense that everything looks different in different perspectives.   People often have a “distorted” point of view in different ideas, but are they really distorted?  Anamorphic paintings appear distorted if not viewed in a certain angle, but how can we say that it is distorted if the painting itself hasn’t changed?  As for paintings with linear perspective, the perspective is given to the viewers and they have no freedom to explore the work in other ways, while anamorphic paintings, the viewers are free to look at it in different perspectives.  It is the human willingness to change their perspectives is what fuels the evolution of art.  Perspective in art is both dependent on the artist and the viewers (it is up to the viewers whether to see the art as art or not, for example).
Also, perspective was the gateway in art to add new dimensions to it.  No longer is art set within the boundaries of Euclidean geometry, due to the evolution of perspective.  Time and movement, which is one way to look at the fourth dimension, is now more prevalent in visual arts then before.  Of course, movement was always meaningful in art (such as in dancing, or the exploding shapes in fireworks), but now, moving pictures, or even moving sculptures are possible, adding more dimension to artwork than before.  What caught my attention when I was a child were the video art pieces by Nam June Paik.  I remember the multiple TV’s functioning as one screen to project the moving pictures.  Sometimes the TV’s were arranged to make different shapes, which made the pieces sculptures at the same time.  In viewing video art, the perspective isn’t limited only to the viewpoint, but also the viewing time; in order to see the whole “picture” one would need to stay and watch the whole clip; Paik successfully added a fourth dimension to his works.  http://www.paikstudios.com
Perspective is the essence of art.  Without it, how can we have the view points of what is art and what isn’t?

Joon Jang

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