The implications of David Hockney's thesis for 3D computer graphics

Theodor Wyeld

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    The debate on whether optics were used to construct perspective images during the Renaissance was reignited by the artist David Hockney’s book Secret Knowledge of the Masters. While others have already discussed this in length, what Hockney brings to the debate are his insights as an artist. What this chapter attempts to do is to explore his thesis in terms of its implications for 3D computer graphics-the latest extension to the Renaissance perspective. Hockney’s assertion that artists from the quattrocento onward painted from mirror and lens-projected images has its implications for the projected images of 3D computer graphics today. Just as technology informed the Renaissance artist on ways of seeing and representing natural phenomena, 3D computer graphics today uses algorithms to simulate these same phenomena. However, neither process can ever approach the absolute clarity of Nature. Attempts to replicate natural phenomena in images are quests for realism-begun in the Renaissance and continued in 3D computer graphics. How-ever, the various techniques used can only ever make the images produced seem real or at least real enough. In the case of the Renaissance artist, this was in the form of painterly techniques to generate the illusion of clarity. For 3D computer graphics, while the mathematical algorithms are adjusted to simulate nature they often simply imitate the quattrocento Masters’ techniques. However, while the Renaissance artist never lost sight of their role in interpreting what they see, 3D computer graphics is supposed to be underpinned by the certainties of its apparent scientific veracity. Hence, is this certainty deserved or is it merely that science and art intertwined in ways that mean one is simply reliant on the other?.

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationKnowledge Visualization Currents
    Subtitle of host publicationFrom Text to Art to Culture
    Number of pages18
    ISBN (Electronic)9781447143031
    ISBN (Print)9781447143024
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


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