Monday, August 29, 2016

Just Fun: Amazing Stairwell Illusion - the Escherian Stairwell

Watch this amazing video of people in an apparent closed-loop stairway.

Many people throughout the world are currently being fooled by this tour of the Escherian Stairwell located in the Frank B. Gannett building at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The tour is an elaborate hoax created by RIT film/animation graduate student Michael Lacanilao and features people experiencing the stairwell illusion for the first time.  YouTube video link

M. C. Escher Ascending and Descending  woodcut print, 1960

Some background on the artist M.C. Escher:

Maurits Cornelis Escher (17 June 1898 – 27 March 1972) was a Dutch graphic artist who made mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints.

Early in his career he drew inspiration from nature, making studies of insects, landscapes, and plants such as lichens, all of which he reused as details in his artworks. He travelled in Italy and Spain, sketching buildings, townscapes, architecture and the tilings of the Alhambra and La Mezquita, Cordoba, and became steadily more interested in their mathematical structure.

His work features mathematical objects and operations including impossible objects, explorations of infinity, reflection, symmetry, perspective, truncated and stellated polyhedra, hyperbolic geometry, and tessellations.

M. C. Escher Relativity  woodcut print, 1953

Oh yes, here is the solution to the illusion.

From Yahoo Answers:
The secret is that it's a film maker's illusion, in reality it's impossible in 3 dimensions. I was one of the around 30,000 people at the "Imagine RIT" festival on May 4. I had noticed the Escherian stairwell in the list of exhibits and realized that it couldn't be "real" but was interested in seeing what it was all about. There were signs pointing to the Escherian stairwell all over campus but we soon realized that they were pointing in random directions. We finally found the classroom where the film maker played the video seen on the Internet plus a shorter one where he explained that it was his master's project and what he was trying to accomplish. He also gave a short live talk and answered questions. Nobody in the showing that I went to asked about how it was actually accomplished but it was obviously just clever editing.

I love the stairwell. The stairwell is obviously real. They don't fake people going up and down the stairs. They also do not do a split screen edit. I believe we see exactly what each of the cameras see, at least one camera on the lower floor and at least one camera on the higher floor. The film is nicely edited. 

The illusion, of course, is that we have twins. The host has his twin, so in the one scene, as the first host goes out of view, going up on the left, we suddenly see his twin brother coming up on the right. No editing there. I have seen explanations on the Internet proving that this is one person and how it had to have been done, but Occam s Razor does imply that the simplest explanation should suffice. 

The second illusion is one that I'm sure they repeated multiple times as a practical joke on unsuspecting students, and they picked the best unrehearsed reaction. The host was on one floor, his twin brother on the other floor, and since the camera followed her, it meant that there was no split screening involved, but nice editing between or among the cameras. 

The third illusion, with many students holding hands as the host makes his way back downstairs was accomplished with one more pair of twins, one near the top of the chain of students, the other near the bottom. 

A wonderful illusion filmed on a real set. In the RIT film, there are several floors and twin actors. The action is not broken, but continuous as a person moves from one floor to the other. But BBT stops filming, moves a few things around while the boys move to the opposite end of the stairs, then filming begins again. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Grateful Notices: Winter Creek 30 x 40 oil

Winter Creek oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches
Trees are a favorite theme of mine and in this work I combined then with a cold stream and winter trees in the background. Any foliage in the trees is barely apparent and the grass in the foreground is also understated. The composition is spare but not stark. That was the challenge and the joy of making this painting - just enough complexity to create the illusion of individual winter trees and others massed in a forest.

What little color there is alludes to the first hints of spring, leaving the patterns of winter to frame the cool blues and purples.

My sincere thanks to the buyers of this oil... I miss it already.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Grateful Notices: Gathering Light oil 36 x 36 inches

Gathering Light oil 36 x 36 inches  Private collection

This is an image that I have previously done a couple of versions of. The earlier oils were purple-based and more subdued. I really like this composition and felt compelled to really push the colors in a new version.

I began with the bright oranges and reds in combination, making a bright, new world.  Care was taken to keep the brightest reds and oranges in the background only. Other colors may be similar, but they are not as strong.

The strategy was to create a powerful, high-color scene. The stronger colors are not diluted, but magnified because they were not repeated elsewhere. It is the same with the yellow hues at the tops of the trees - that yellow is not used again. The other yellows are slightly green or red shifted, leaving the tops of the trees brighter than the other yellows.

It all comes together in a bright, luminous landscape where all of the elements accentuate the others, setting up the glowing red-orange background as a focus point.

It was a pleasure to work through this one and I want to thank the new owner for purchasing this for their home!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Grateful Notices: Yellow Wall, oil on canvas 36 x 60 inches

Yellow Wall  oil on canvas, 36 x 60  private collection
It was a thrill to see this oil go to a private collection. Now that I think of it, the composition predated my idea of the Saccade series.   more information about the Saccades

I wanted to create a large forest scene with a minimum of detail but just enough of an organic feel to set up a forest with glowing yellow and russet tones. The 5 foot width envelopes the viewer when looking at it close up and at a distance in the room, the painting gives the effect of a window into a radiant world.

My sincere thanks to the new owners and the Steamboat Center for Visual Arts, Steamboat Springs, Colorado for making this sale possible.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Grateful Notices: Saccades V oil, 48 x 60 inches

Saccades V oil on canvas,  48 x 60 inches  Private collection, Illinois

I have enjoyed this series of Saccade oils. Each is a view into a forest with very little sky or foreground. The idea is not to have a prominent focal point, but instead to create a space that pulls the eye in many directions

More information about others in the series and the meaning of Saccades.

This oil is not a portrait of a forest but instead the equivalent of what a forest does with the distinct verticals, shadows, lights and that indefinable complexity in between.

It is a very pleasurable exercise to create a slice of the forest (when things are going well) and to use any colors, from or other means possible to bring it to life.

I was delighted to be able to spend time with the couple that purchased this just completed work and thank you for the honor of adding it to your collection.