Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Big is the Mono Lisa?

Mona Lisa, 1503-1506, Leonardo da Vinci

unless you've been to The Louvre, most of us have experienced this painting through books, the web and student posters... but actually how big is it?

Basically I'm having some thoughts on how to entice the Critical and Contextual Studies dept onto our Second Life island...

A quick straw poll of students around the college when asked how big was the Mona Lisa, only a few could give an accurate size. Though all are familar with the history of the painting, the feeling for its real size is, I suspect, skewed by props on TV & Film, seeing the picture on the web, and proportionate to its famousness.

The Mona Lisa is 77cms x 53cm ( 30inch x 20 7/8inch )

One thing I've always liked about Second Life galleries is you can get a sense of scale of a painting or image
(as the artist may or maynot of intended), something that's lacking when you see the same image embedded in a webpage or powerpoint presentation.

Having the avatar to scale the art against at least starts lending itself to an understanding of the intentions of the artist..

Here's Pablo Picasso's
Guernica, again you can get some engagment with the scale of the piece, which would be lacking from a book or web-based picture.

With a bit of skill, a tutor, rather than using a powerpoint presentation, could present a virtual tour of a gallery space
( be it as a group, or simply a tutor's view presented on a video projector ) could create even more opportunities to discuss the art works.

I'm using fine art works as an example - but the same principle could also be applied to graphic design and advertising - looking at the use of scale with posters & billboards, by placing them in galleries as well as simulated spaces (eg. shopping mall ) -
( hmm, maybe a corporate example, but hopefully you get the point ) - allows for a critical discussion of how the image works in the space and its intended audience. Particularly useful for spaces, that students might not get ready access to.

Secondary, having a 3D online gallery to place work in, is also a great tool to explore some of the curatorial skills of a putting an exhibition together. Not only does a student have to sort out the collection of images, but can think about how they are placed within the space, and against each other. This can translate to a real life show - allowing several options to be considered before hanging the work.

One thing to take into account is Second Life's propensity for taller than average height avatars,
and the default camera position - does make things feel smaller than reality, so playing with the camera ( viewing in mouselook ) and using other props that allow for a sense of real world scale will compensate for this.

Personally, I still think its important to go on the physical field trips to a gallery when one can, but its great to see projects like this arriving in Second Life - a replica of The Old Masters Pictures Gallery, Dresden - that's only a TP away..

SLURL - Gallery/128/128/27

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