15 September 2009

binocular self

Kremer pan watercolors, Wolff's carbon, Arches CP 300gsm, 16" x 12".

i have been feeling a desire lately to get back to vision rather than photography for a working basis. a lot of things going on ... looking at stars through an infrared scope, testing color combinations using photoshop generated media, finding the camera based paintings stale and timid, difficulty in focusing when i draw freehand, an interest in how objects are identified in vision, looking through japanese hantai comics and other graphic novels ... feeling boxed in by the image.

i had a grid traced on an acrylic sheet that i used to transfer a starscape into a large (30"x22") format, and thought to use it to draw my face in binocular view. the trick is to focus on the grid, but look at the image behind it; if the grid is propped against a mirror and the mirror is a few feet away, the binocular image appears fairly clearly.

it was very difficult for me to draw in this way, mostly because the binocular rivalry became stronger, and one image would dominate. there is actually great depth to this kind of image that becomes more apparent the longer you try to draw it; the difficulty is to draw both images with equal contribution.

the eye does various things to reconcile the images. the edge of the head (hair) and the eyes are pronounced, because the eyes overlap in the center (the right eye looks directly into the left eye, and vice versa). the mouth appears as a horizontal feature. the nose is split in separate images that are only half as strong as the eyes, and so on. where areas overlap, the image "behind" the other appears attenuated at the edge, as if the image in front were surrounded by a nimbus. features coalesce to make shapes, and the shapes change as one or the other image asserts itself. it was quite tiring.

the binocular issue was foregrounded by a large painting i am doing of "naked ladies", a type of lily that blossoms once each year around the first of september. the profuse lily cones created a dense pattern of overlaping and occluding volumes.

1 comment:

António Araújo said...

Lovely! I have been thinking about binocular vision lately, but didn't know how to go about tackling it in the plane. Your thoughts on the matter are most interesting, as usual.

It was great to find this blog, since I am an avid reader of handprint. That site of yours is the book on colour I once dreamt of writing one day (when I was gnashing my teeth and rending my clothes at the nonsense coming from artists - "colour is described by three variables, hue, chroma and value. Hue is the color itself..."(dear God)), and I am glad you did it better than I ever would, and so soon that I could profit from your efforts, like a hungry, thankful parasite. :)

Oh, by the way, have you read February's Scientifc American? Check out the "impossible colors" article, I think you'll enjoy it. apparently you can induce the brain to see a reddish green and yellowish blue under a certain setup. I haven't picked up a copy yet, but it should be interesting.

Most sincere regards, and keep up the great work.