Perspective

Perspective is one of the first things that you learn when you begin to discover more about drawing and art. I think it might have been when I was in elementary school in grade 3 that I first learned about the idea of a vanishing point on the horizon which serves as a reference point for the angles in a drawing, giving the image a sense of depth and the illusion of realism. As drawing technique becomes more advanced and complex, artists may further enhance their work with two-point and three-point perspective drawing.

As you learn more about the concept, you discover how revolutionary the idea was in the development of art. Now, we take for granted the craft of image making, as cameras have become ubiquitous. At the time of the Renaissance, the discovery, or rediscovery, of perspective was a very significant advancement in the science and mathematics of optics and its application to the art and craft of painting.

Over time, perceptions change, and technology overcomes the need to painstakingly depict the illusion of realism in paintings when photography can so easily capture an image that far more accurately represents the physical world. Artists had always been concerned with metaphysical themes, but these themes were usually expressed through representations of the physical world. However, with the advent of photography, art needed to find new ways of perceiving that went far beyond the physical. Modern art shatters the constraints of the traditional approach to painting, which served as a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional world. Art became more interested in the process of creativity itself, the expression of human emotion, the exploration of the metaphysical, quite literally, that which is beyond the physical.

Film shatters the constraints of time. No longer is the image a static representation of the physical world at one moment in time. A moving image is able to capture a series of moments in a particular space and time. The picture itself does not move, but by viewing a series of images taken in chronological order and playing them back in the same sequence and at the same rate that they were taken, an illusion of reality can be created. The viewer or audience is, in a sense, able to experience the world through the eyes of another person. It is then possible to travel through time and space and beyond, into the imagination of the mind of those who conceive stories and experiences. As Tolkien’s Galadriel might have said, the images are reflections of “things that were, things that are and some things that have not yet come to pass.” Often, the images are explorations of what are beyond the realm of normal human experience.

Computers, being bicycles of the mind, as Steve Jobs explained (make sure you start at the beginning of Steve Job’s condor story), enhance our inherent ability to conceive and imagine a different world: what our world could be, and perhaps what worlds we could conceive and create, even beyond the constraints of the physical. The network shatters the constraints of both time, space and matter, able to process, store and retrieve information at a far greater rate and quantity than the human mind is capable of on its own. The world becomes instantly smaller, through technology, and the mind begins to imagine what might be possible if all of these human minds could unify themselves with a common purpose with such a tool at their disposal.

So, here is where perspective is needed again. Without a reference point, there can be no common purpose. The image cannot be properly resolved if every pixel is not in communication with a central processor that understands the big picture and is able to decode information into a cohesive image that can communicate the idea residing in the mind of the creator. At least, that is my perspective.