Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Street Art & Anamorphosis

Thanks to the Dragonfly (whose Adventures you can read about here), I found the street art of Julian Beever. He uses chalk on sidewalks to draw images that, when viewed from a certain direction, show an object or scene in perfect proportion. The illusion leverages our eye/brain knowledge of perspective, object size, and relative distance and the viewer’s perspective to correct the “distorted” image he draws on the angled sidewalk. It’s easier to see than to explain in words. Looking from one direction, this image appears stretched out and you don’t immediately recognize the object. However, in the correct view the object pops out in perfect proportion. The illusion is striking on some of his art here and here where people seem to fit in perfectly with the drawing.

A quick search on the web pointed out the technique is called anamorphosis. Here is one nice site that discusses the technique that has a nice bibliography and list of links. An early example of the technique is a skull put in the oil painting shown here. I also discovered another street artist, Kurt Wenner, with similar work.

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