The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Friday, Debtember 07, 2001

The Masters cheated …

Starting with that jangling observation, Mr. Hockney derived a new theory of art and optics: around 1430, centuries before anyone suspected it, artists began secretly using cameralike devices, including the lens, the concave mirror and the camera obscura, to help them make realistic-looking paintings. Mr. Hockney's list of suspects includes van Eyck, Caravaggio, Lotto, Vermeer and of course the maddeningly competent draftsman Ingres. All of them, Mr. Hockney suggests, knew the magic of photographic projection. They saw how good these devices were at projecting a three-dimensional world onto a two-dimensional surface. And they just could not resist.

Via Flutterby, Paintings Too Perfect? [requires free registration to read—sorry]

Way back in '89 or '90 I took a drawing class at FAU and since it's been over seven years I think I can safely admit this: I cheated on my final exam.

The final exam was to draw a self portrait. I had put it off until the day before it was due and in a fit of desperation, I knew I had no time to do a proper portrait, so I improvised.

At the time, I had a photocopy machine in my closet (yes, I actually had a copy machine and I still wish I had it but the whys and wherefores about it will have to wait for another time), a light box (constructed by myself and my maternal grandfather when I was in the 6th grade for a project on animation and which I still own. Why I kept a $10 light box (in 1980 dollars) and not a $100 photocopier (in 1989 dollars) is beyond me but I digress …), a pencil sharpener that produced graphite powder as a byproduct and lots of erasers, and thereby my plan was hatched.

I photocopied my hand. Well, several times, until I got this nice high contrast black-and-white photocopy of my hand. I then prepared a piece of drawing paper by smearing powdered graphite over it turning it to a dark gray shade. I then taped the photocopy to the lightbox, then the shaded drawing paper and using an eraser, proceeded to “draw” my hand.

It took maybe two, three hours from start (“What the hell am I going to do?”) to finish (“God, I hope no one finds out I cheated!”) and the result was good enough to get me an A on the final.

Postscript: I bought a cheap frame for the picture and took it to my office at IBM when I worked there as a student programmer in 1990. Before I got around to hanging the picture up it was stolen one night. I hope that it was stolen because the thief liked the picture and not just for the frame—that would be too demoralizing.

I also have somewhere around here another “drawing” I started of a photocopy of a Coke can. I don't think I can finish it as I no longer think I have the original photocopies to work from. Alas.

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