Anamorphosis: what it is

Anamorphosis: what it is

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Anamorphosis, when an image strongly distorted as if by magic when viewed from a particular position, very inclined with respect to its plane, acquires a "true shape". What's underneath? A technique of optical illusion which projects the image onto the plane in a distorted way and only by distorting, in a certain sense, also our point of view, can we "reconstruct" it.

Here, in fact: anamorphosis from the Greek ἀναμόρϕωσις, it really means "reconstructed form". The subject to be reconstructed can be a flat figure, any image painted or drawn in 2D, or a three-dimensional object and in this case, if viewed from the right point, it will be perceived in 3D.

Anamorphosis: how it works

L'anamorphosis it is based on the fact that, with some simplifications that I allow myself, in the monocular perspective vision we see the images as if they were projected on a vertical transparent plane. So, taking a vertical green triangle, it can be the image of both a truly vertical triangle and a very long horizontal triangle "projected" by the perspective effect mentioned above.

Retracing the process in reverse, therefore, we arrive at the fact that by creating very long horizontal images, placed on the floor for example, they may seem to soar upwards. This Hypnotic "magic" it repeats itself indefinitely whenever the conditions exist, so we can also have multiple shapes distributed over multiple surfaces which, seen from the right angle, make up a single shape with new and surprising characteristics.

We talk about optical anamorphosis when the image on the plane must be observed from an inclined position, an effect obtained with the rules of perspective applied in reverse. L'anamorphosis is called catoptric, on the other hand, when to grasp the true figure it is necessary to be equipped with a curved mirror.

Anamorphosis: art

First we better understand how to get anamorphisms and the various types, we discover how we are surrounded by them, today, and from the times of time. The first to experience this bizarre, already in the sixteenth century, was just our case Leonardo, for example in his “The Ambassadors of Hans Holbein the Younger” looking from the “extreme” right we see a skull. Then there was a pupil of Dürer, Erhard Schön (1491-1542), the most prolific builder of anamorphic portraits of famous people.

In the first half of the 1500s theanamorphosis optics has depopulated in Northern Europe, above all, where it was used to keep secrets of a religious, political or erotic nature. L'Anamorphosis was also liked by the artists of the seventeenth century, in the Baroque age in Rome a fresco 6 m long from Emmanuel Maignan at Trinità dei Monti, where St. Francis of Paola hides in prayer.

In another church in the capital, in that of St. Ignatius of Loyola, there is another anamorphismor signed by the seventeenth-century artist Andrea Pozzo. Turning to contemporary artists, the choice is difficult, there are extraordinarily creative ones, from English Julian Beever, who paints on walls or sidewalks, to street artists in 3D Leon Keer, then, there is Edgar Mueller, "Specializing in frightening chasms and chasms" on the sidewalks. On paper, to have fun with the anamorphosis, there is the Italian Alessandro Diddi and the Dutch Ramon Bruin.

Anamorphosis: technique

The technique ofanamorphosis it cannot ignore an observer and his point of view. The drawing must be made according to his view. In general, the lower the object to be drawn is compared to the observer, the less the perspective must be forced in length. The more the object rises towards our line of sight, however, the more we have to lengthen it on the drawing plane to obtain a anamorphism credible and beautiful.

Even more generally today we can achieve anamorphic images in two ways. If we proceed we must rely on the rules of perspective, first choosing particular points of view and unusual vanishing points and then acting accordingly in drawing the lines. It can also be done anamorphisms by reflection, deforming the image within a circular sector. To "read" the effect ofanamorphosis what is drawn should be reflected on a cylinder or a cone.

The technique of'Anamorphosis it is widely used in cinema, theater and advertising. AT cinema in particular with the CinemaScope L'anamorphism it is used to shoot with a screen format with a base / height ratio different from that of the film through the use of anamorphic lenses, placed at the time of shooting.

We stumble into anamorphosis walking down the street every day, and I'm not talking about the first artists but the writings for signs on the road surface, for example: they have characters that are deformed and stretched to be legible at a certain distance. Even the advertising signs drawn on the sports playgrounds are deliberately distorted on the ground to appear straight from the point of view of the cameras.

Cylindrical anamorphosis

The version anamorphosis of an image can be made in such a way that in order to recompose the original figure, in the correct proportions, it is necessary to observe its reflection through cylindrical or conical mirrors. They are called anamorphoscopes.

Build anamorphisms for reflection it is not difficult and we proceed as for the "classic" anamorphosis: with a geometric grid in which to draw the subject indicating the coordinates for each portion. Then step by step we continue, this time with the compass trace to create a second circular sector scheme, with portions this time obtained by tracing the rays at regular intervals.

At this point, the image chosen must be turned upside down in this circular sector based on the coordinates with the foresight to bend the straight segments slightly downwards. It is almost done: placing a metal cylinder in the center of the sector then just look and the image mirrored with the right proportions will appear.

The theorist of this technique is the French religious Jean François Niceron. Today these designs seem to be playing games with anamorphosis but at the time they were very useful. The scientist, artist and politician Pietro Accolti tells it: in its 17th century theanamorphosis it was an excellent technique rather than an illusion of avoidance. To evade controls and send secret messages, disguised as harmless missives and that can only be grasped if you are holding a mirror or positioning yourself close to the paper.

Perspective anamorphosis

To make images with perspective anamorphosis it is necessary to reverse the sense of perspective. So let's take the known geometric laws used for a normal perspective and transgress them by completely reversing them.

For theanamorphosis therefore the position of the point of view must be strongly lateral, the distance point, moreover, very close to the main point so as to force the observer to almost put his nose on the drawing. And then you must also exaggerate the height of the horizon. These revolutionary whims, these transgressions from anamorphosis, they force the viewer, to decipher the image, to use only one eye, placing it exactly in the unnatural position predicted by the anamorphist.

Anamorphosis: software

Today with the anamorphosis, obtained from simple software, other surprising spatial optical illusions can be created, both indoors and outdoors. A contemporary magician of these software techniques is him Felice Varini from Switzerland which proposes geometric and architectural forms that are almost fluctuating architectures. Since 2001 there has been software dedicated toanamorphosis for both Java and Windows.

Is called "Anamorph Me!”And is able to produce anamorphic transformations on images. It reads an input in the most common formats and proposes a number of them anamorphic transformations also cylindrical and accessible with conical mirror.

Software aside, back down to earth and pencil and paper in hand, to create any anamorphism on the ground or on the walls there is the video projector! Just project the image on a surface in a grazing way and trace its edges.

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