Reverse perspective Automatic translate
The use of axonometry in the fine arts, as we have already said, is true in two cases: when transmitting very close and very distant objects. That is why she dominates the icon painting. This is clearly seen in fig. - reproductions of the icon "The Nativity of John the Baptist." On this icon, all close-up objects are transferred using axonometry, and the architectural background is written in the same way.
The axonometry used in the image of close objects is somewhat transformed. The hind legs of the table, seats and cradles are made slightly higher than the front ones (in the axonometric image they should have been the same with the front ones). The reason for this is clear, it has already been discussed when considering the frescoes of Dionysius. The aforesaid gives reason to assert that axonometry is a promising basis for icon painting, and it can experience known deformations. As for the changes that are noticeable on the icon (the hind legs are larger than the front ones), they lead to the effect of a reverse perspective: the remote is depicted in larger sizes than close, as if instead of the natural perspective reductions, as the distance from the beholder is removed, the unnatural principle of perspective increases is adopted. This gave reason to call such a promising image "reverse."
True, it should be emphasized that the discussed example of the image indicates an indirect reason for the inverse perspective: it was not an end in itself for the icon painter, but appeared as a result of the desire to correctly convey other elements of the image, for example, the surface of a table lined with many objects.
However, there is another reason for the reverse perspective in the works of artists - not as a by-product, but as the artist’s direct desire to convey an object in the reverse perspective. This desire is due to the fact that, under certain conditions, a person sees objects of close space (which was mentioned in the previous chapter) in the opposite perspective. The mathematical theory of the perceptual system of perspective suggests that under certain conditions, as a special case in the framework of this theory, its equations take the form of backward-looking patterns. It turned out that if you look at some object stretched in depth, changing the angle, as if moving relative to it, then its visible configuration will also change. Initially, it will be visible axonometrically, but gradually, as it approaches the angle of about 45 °, it will be more clearly perceived in a light reverse perspective, and in the future it will again acquire an axonometric shape. Thus, axonometry and a light reverse perspective will flow smoothly into one another, as it were. One and the same object will be visible either in parallel or in easy reverse perspective, which turn out to be deeply related ways of perceiving small spatial objects.
It would seem that the above contradicts the enthusiastic description of axonometry in the previous chapter as an ideal, error-free way to image small and close objects. However, it is not. Axonometry is really an ideal way to convey the appearance of small, not too long objects in depth, and an easy reverse perspective appears when these objects become more extended in depth and seem to go out of the area of space for which axonometry laws are valid.
Since the mathematical processing of the laws of human visual perception confirms the completely natural origin of backward-looking images in art (a person in certain conditions just sees objects in the opposite perspective), this phenomenon should have been noticed for a long time. And indeed it is. Note that young children always prefer the opposite perspective. Special studies conducted in different countries have shown that this childish tendency cannot be explained by “childish inability” alone - there must be a more serious reason. In the light of the developed theory of visual perception, it becomes absolutely clear: children see this. Only gradually, under the influence of adults convincing the child that it is impossible to draw like that, under the influence of systematic “training” does the child lose this innate ability. In addition, he accustoms our whole life to the Renaissance system of perspective. After all, photographs, films, daily television broadcasts are based on the Renaissance, in certain conditions, unnatural method of transmitting spatiality.
Not only children, but also novice artists unwittingly lean towards the opposite perspective. It was deemed necessary to note such a famous artist as K.F. Yuon. In his book on art, he writes: “Those who do not know the laws of the theory of perspective will almost certainly depict objects in the reverse form, as was done systematically in all cases of eastern ancient folk art” [Yuon, 1959]. In this statement, the primacy of “training” over natural visual perception is clearly visible. An outstanding schedule V. A. Favorsky is able to see in the opposite perspective. According to the stories of his students, he liked to demonstrate this phenomenon to them. The number of such examples is easy to increase. The statements made here are almost universally accepted. In a very solid, published by the University of Oxford Encyclopedic Dictionary of Fine Arts [Oxford Companion. 1983] it is said that although the reverse perspective contradicts the science of perspective, a person sees foreground objects in parallel or reverse perspective rather than in direct. Numerous experiments convince us that even today a person is able to overcome what he has been taught and want to see everything described by himself.
It may seem that the theory of perceptual perspective does not give anything new here, but simply confirms what is already known. But this would be a mistaken conclusion: so far only a fact has been recorded that has no explanation. Now it becomes clear why, under what conditions and what objects a person sees in the opposite perspective. The reverse perspective passes from the category of phenomena of obscure nature to a well-balanced mathematical theory based on the patterns of processing by the brain of visual information received by the eye. Moreover, it is now included in the theory of scientific perspective as a regular and equal part of it. It is described by the same equations of the perceptual system of perspective as its other variants, and is no less scientific than the same renaissance system of perspective. It is obtained without any reference to the experience of artistic creation, being wholly within the framework of the process of natural visual perception.
In the past years, many attempts have been made to explain the emergence of the reverse perspective in the visual arts. Sometimes it was associated with the binocularity of human vision. Sometimes the mobility of the point of view was called as the only reason - claiming that the artist in this case did not write from life, remaining motionless, but looked at the depicted object from different sides, then conveyed his overall vision in the picture. Very often, artists used the opposite perspective in icons the religious nature of this type of painting. There were other explanations for the phenomenon under discussion, most of which did not withstand serious criticism. It is interesting to note that all of their authors believed that the reverse perspective is a deviation from the norm, which must be explained. They invariably proceeded from the fact that a person always sees space according to the laws of a direct perspective, at least a renaissance. Experience seemed to confirm this: distant objects were visible small, and close objects large. The authors of these theoretical constructions escaped that very significant circumstance that a person sees space in different ways: close space - but with one laws, more distant with others. Moreover, these laws pass one into another gradually, making up a kind of complex unity. Trying to replace the difficult picture of visual perception with an elementary scheme, the authors of such constructions did not notice the main thing: a person who has not undergone the “training” described above will definitely see close objects in the opposite perspective, and therefore there is nothing in the ubiquitous appearance in the visual arts of different countries and eras surprising. One must not be surprised and explained why it is characteristic, for example, of ancient and medieval art, but why this completely natural way of depiction has disappeared in the art of modern times.
What does the theory of the reverse perspective, based on the mathematically formulated laws of visual perception, speak of? What are the conditions that cause her to live, and what is her normal appearance? In the opposite perspective, relatively small objects of space close to the beholder are visible, moreover, visible from the perspective. This is especially true for the horizontal planes of the depicted bodies. Mathematical analysis shows that the angle of divergence of objectively parallel lines (for example, parallel ribs of the foot) in visual perception is limited to about 10 °. In other words, the reverse perspective due to the visual perception of space is relatively small, it can be units of degrees, but not tens at all. However, it is known that a significantly more pronounced reverse perspective is often found, for example, on icons, which is caused by completely different reasons that are not related to the scientific system of perspective, and therefore in these cases it is appropriate to use the term “reverse perspective effect”. One such example was already given at the beginning of the chapter: the effect arising from the desire to correctly convey the surface of a table, seat or other similar object and leading to an increase in the length of the hind legs. Effects of this kind and their causes will be discussed later. It is only pertinent here to emphasize that when analyzing art, one should not confuse these completely different sources of the appearance of backward-looking constructions in the visual arts (as is often done today) - this can lead to erroneous conclusions when trying to understand the artist.
The above statements are useful to illustrate by referring to examples of fiction. Fig. 35 shows a self-portrait of a Korean artist of the XVIII century. Kim Hondo Kim Hondo refers to artists of a realistic direction, which, however, can be seen from the self-portrait. There is no doubt that the author seeks here to convey the nature as accurately as possible. The low table depicted on the left side of the self-portrait and the objects located on it are made in easy reverse perspective (its value is about 5 °, which fully corresponds to the theoretical limitation of the natural reverse perspective found above). It is quite obvious that Kim Hondo did not pursue any mystical or symbolic goals (which are often associated with reversing perspective), but sincerely and artlessly expressed his natural visual perception.
It has already been said that axonometry and the easy reverse perspective of the type in question are related image methods and are able to “flow” one into another, because depending on the angle one and the same object can be seen either in parallel or in reverse. Since in medieval art objects were not depicted from life, both of these methods of depiction could be applied on equal grounds, because in the visual memory of the artist they were stored as equal and equally fair.
Moreover, medieval art knows a lot of examples when both methods are simultaneously applied in one composition. Someone may perceive this as the inconsistency of the artist, which would be a mistaken conclusion. Using both methods of depiction at the same time in his work, the artist merely states an absolutely reliable fact of natural visual perception: a person in various conditions sees objects in either parallel or light reverse perspective, sometimes more clearly expressed, sometimes weaker. As a classic example illustrating this statement, we give Andrei Rublev’s Trochu. The foot of the left (from the viewer) angel is given in a weakly expressed reverse perspective, while the foot of the right is in axonometry. It is interesting to note that at the left foot the reverse perspective is slightly less than 10 °. This indicates that Rublev depicted both feet, consistent with the laws of natural visual perception.
Here are just two illustrations. Their number could be increased, because examples of the reverse perspective of this kind are known not only by icon painting, but also by the art of the Far East (Korea, China, Japan), the art of India and Iran, ancient art, medieval art of Western Europe, etc. The fact that from the point of view of perspective constructions turned out to be related works of art belonging to different eras, countries and cultures, additionally testifies to the common basis of their perspective constructions. This basis is certainly the laws of natural visual perception of a person.
As already mentioned, the opposite perspective, proceeding from the laws of the joint work of the eye and brain, is limited by the angle of straight line divergence of about 10 °. Accustomed to seeing and depicting objects in a weakly expressed reverse perspective, the artists could emphasize and exaggerate the divergence of lines characterizing this promising construction, if this seemed appropriate to them for one reason or another. Such examples are also known. Fig. 36 shows the eruption of a fragment of the Tver icon of the late XV - early XVI century. "Nativity". On it, the nurseries in which the Baby lies are transmitted with an angle of divergence of sides of about 23 °. To the artist, and to the viewer, this did not seem unnatural - perhaps a little exaggerated, but no more. Indeed, the modern viewer is quite calmly perceiving an object shown in direct perspective, even if its vanishing point is below the horizon.
The inverse perspective, generated by the laws of visual perception and therefore understandable to everyone, simplified the use of a similar method of transmitting spatiality in those cases where the laws typical of ordinary vision were violated. A similar example has already been given above: the rear legs shown in Fig. 4 objects are larger than front ones, although a person sees them the same (a consequence of the axonometry of the close objects shown in the figure). It is quite logical to assume that the viewer contemplated such images that violate visual perception without a special sense of protest, since the reverse perspective was familiar and understandable to him not only as a natural and often correct way of image, but also because he met such a vision every day in his everyday life.
The emergence of exaggerated backward-looking constructions in depicting the Gospel on icons has a similar character. Here, too, what has been called the reverse perspective effect is observed. Earlier it was said that when contemplating close and well-known from everyday experience objects, their visible form approaches the true one. The brain, as it were, seeks to translate its knowledge of the subject into a visible image, to refine it. This phenomenon has received in the psychology of visual perception the name of the mechanism of constancy of form. Speaking specifically about the caskets and the Gospels, then the person is well aware of their true shape, in particular the fact that the planes that bound them are rectangles. In fig. a diagram is shown explaining the appearance of the generally accepted in iconography method of depicting the Gospel with the hands of the saint. On the left is shown how a gospel would have been seen by a person who had never seen him before. Naturally, he would see this close and small object axonometrically, that is, the edges a, b and c would be seen parallel to it. If, in addition, the artist depicted the edges of the book having the same width, thereby transmitting his knowledge of their actual equality, then the slope of the edge a to the horizontal would be equal to 45 °. Since a person always knew the subject well, all the angles shown would be close to straight. However, it is impossible to convey this on the image plane.
As can be seen from the comparison of the image of edges a and c on the extreme left and neighboring schemes, the problem is solved for these edges. Insurmountable difficulties arise when trying to do the same with an edge. Indeed, at the same time, it is possible to bring both adjacent angles formed by this edge to the straight lines only by tearing the image. This is hindered by the kind of “primacy of continuity” intuitively accepted by all artists, according to which distortions in the shape of the transmitted object can be allowed, but image breaks are absolutely excluded.As a result, the edge retains a certain average position and the pairs of edges a, b and b, c sometimes form a rather strong reverse perspective. Here, the reverse perspective that has arisen is again obtained as a result of the desire to correctly convey the configuration of the displayed planes, and is not an end in itself.
There are cases when the icon painter, by turning the edges a and c, did not just approximate the angles they formed to the straight lines, conveying the natural visual perception of these angles, but gave them the true size, making them exactly straight. At the same time, there was a violation of the laws of visual perception, but it was possible to show the actual rectangular silhouette of not only the front and back boards, but also the book as a whole. This, of course, also gives the strongest reverse perspective effect.
Unlike the Gospels, caskets are usually shown from a narrow, rather than a wide, side. In this case, such an energetic reverse perspective would cause an unreasonably large increase in the far-removed edge d (the right diagram), which in fact can be seen by nature almost identical to the front edge parallel to it. Here, the most reasonable is a compromise image with a uniform distribution of distortions over all its components, as can be seen from the diagram.
In fig.38 shows two fragments of the 16th century icon. "Kozma, Damian and James, brother of God" with the image of the Gospel and casket, well illustrating the above considerations. In the relatively shallow Gospel, the degree of severity of the reverse perspective is great - about 30 °, while in the casket it is only 5 °, that is, it lies within the natural backward perspective.
The discussion of the reasons for the appearance of the reverse perspective in the fine arts presented in this chapter shows that there are two mechanisms for its occurrence. Firstly, it is simply a transmission of visual perception, which is characterized by a weak reverse perspective when contemplating close objects from a perspective. Secondly, this is a side effect that occurs when the visual perception of close objects of a well-known configuration is corrected by the psychological mechanism of form constancy. In some cases, this corrected geometry can be transmitted only by distorting other elements of the image, in particular, by introducing, where it is inevitable, a reverse perspective that is strengthened compared with natural visual perception.
Both mechanisms analyzed here are united by the fact that they are directly or indirectly related to the process of normal visual perception. However, this is not the only source of the appearance of backward-looking constructions in the visual arts. There are others that are not directly related to the process of visual perception.
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