Would Rembrandt Have Chosen To See Scorsese’s Hugo In 2D or 3D?

By Barry Sandrew, Legend3D

Would Rembrandt, one of the greatest artists of all time consider coughing up the theater upcharge to see Hugo in 3D? After all, he was a master at creating the illusion of depth and volume on a flat canvas using color, light, linear perspective, scale, occlusion and texture. Surely, if he were alive today, he would be a huge 3D enthusiast.

Or would he? If you believe Dr. Margaret Livingstone, a well known Harvard neuroscientist and author of Vision and Art: The Art of Seeing, Rembrandt might have preferred the 2D version of Hugo. Apparently, after careful study of 35 of Rembrandt’s self-portraits, Dr. Livingstone concluded that his eyes were unilaterally misaligned, making Rembrandt stereo blind. Yes, one of the most revered artists in history appeared to have one eye that deviated to the side, which if true, would have made it impossible for him to see Hugo in 3D because he could only use one eye.

Strabismus Can Be An Asset To The Artist

Then how is it he could have created the exquisite simulation of accurate depth and volume in his paintings? If he were in fact stereo blind, he would have been forced throughout his life to become a master in the use of monocular depth cues. If true, and monocular vision is all he ever experienced from birth, this visual anomaly might actually have proven to be an asset in his creative work.

Rembrandt wasn’t the only famous artist thought to have misaligned vision. According to Dr. Livingstone, the list includes realist artists Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, N.C. Wyeth and landscape painter Thomas Moran among others. These artists clearly demonstrate in their work the proper use of monocular cues to simulate both depth and volume

It’s self-evident that artists, particularly those portraying realism, rely 100% on 2 dimensional cues to create the impression of depth and volume. However, what is intriguing is Dr. Livingston’s postulate that some forms of strabismus from birth or that develop in early childhood, might actually be an asset to an artist.

Binocular Vision Is A Liability to A Landscape Artist

On the other hand, binocular vision is of little help to the painter. If you’ve ever seen a landscape artist attempting to capture a scene in watercolor or oils, you may have noticed the artist closing one eye or even looking at the scene through a single tube. These strategies force the artist to observe and employ monocular depth cues to create the illusion of depth and volume. The tube places the subject matter on a relatively flat surface, the retina of one eye. [more...]

Source: Reflections on the Growth of 3D

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