Saturday, December 26, 2015

Impossible Objects

While doing background research for a story I'm working on I revisited one of my interviews with Portuguese artist Margarida Sardinha regarding her project, Symmetry's Portal. Like artists in every field we have influences. Ms. Sardinha is transparent about hers, freely pointing backward to those whose ideas have been reconfigured in her multifaceted expressions. The January interview ended with a reference to Roger Penrose, whose fascination with geometry resulted in some interesting conundrums.

I remember being a youngster looking at a Mad magazine that had a grinning Alfred E. Neumann with one of these impossible designs. I immediately set about to trying to draw this, which is not really that difficult. Yet the effect is mesmerizing. Such simplicity, yet mind-boggling optical tom-foolery.

By means of basic techniques M.C.Escher spent a lifetime producing a vast array of impossible drawings and optical conundrums. A master illusionist, the Dutch graphic artist took his inspiration from mathematics.

Here's an example of another impossible object, the Penrose Triangle.


But what happens when you build a full-sized three-dimensional model of this bizarre idea? Well, it's not just the illustration that's batty, the real life model is even moreso. As is the composition demonstrated here:


Escher is not the only artist drawn to these kinds of optical puzzles. Salvador Dali and Rene Magritte produced some stunning visual effects of their own.

No wonder magicians have so much fun fooling us. All too often things are not what they seem. It both puzzles and entertains us, and frequently leads us to contemplate life's greater mysteries. I'm thinking here of the concept of the Trinity, a unique feature of orthodox Christianity.

Meantime life goes on... all around you, within you and without you. 

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