Monday, October 13, 2014

ThePatch :: Self Portrait with a Unique Perspective

My plan to do all self portraits for this months ThePatach themes, gives me a lot of scope to be more artistically inspired with the curly topic of a unique perspective. I had been experimenting with conical mirror projects for my “handmade” little planets of the Queenscliffe Observatory and immediately thought of MC Escher’s Infinite Reflection. Yes its all done with mirrors, a cylindrical one, and an anamorphic transformation to produce the image the mirror is sitting on. The resulting image you see in the mirror appears to magically floating above the otherwise very distorted drawing on the table.

I started with a very simple front on self-portrait, rather than a profile, as in Escher's drawing. I deliberately keep the background and table simple and pretended to sketch. Then with a minimal tonal tweaking and a basic conversion to a greyscale, I had my starting image to transform. Whilst I wanted colour in the final photo I felt staying in grey tones for the reflection would be truer to Escher's concepts.

Whilst I do have a neat anamorphic transformation utility, called Anomorph Me, I don’t have a cylindrical mirror. What I do have is a stainless steel milk frothing jug and a stainless steel espresso cup. Now a coffee association is much more me anyway. So the first job was to work out roughly the right sizes to make the transformations.  I managed to get close on the first attempt. So far so good…
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The stainless steel is not as clear as a true cylindrical mirror and also the items don’t have straight sides so the reflected images are not as sharp as Escher's and more obviously distorted. So out with a polishing rag and  back to make a new set of transforms this time with some conventional perspective shift to allow for the cup surface leaving out and the jug surface leaning in. For the final photos I had the cup filled with an espresso shot and the jug with frothed milk. I liked the one with the coffee best as it is a better self portrait of me (I love my coffee, I’m from Melbourne!) even though the reflected image isn’t quiet as clear. I think Escher would understand.

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