TO DO AND NOTICE:Select an anamorphic (distorted) picture. Place a reflecting cylinder over the circle next to the picture. View the reflection of the distorted picture in the cylinder (See photograph on the cover of The Magic Mirror book). You should see an image having normal proportions.
WHAT'S GOING ON?These distorted pictures are examples of an art form known as anamorphosis. A small group of artists began working with anamorphic art during the Renaissance. Anamorphic drawings appear strange and almost unrecognizable to the unaided eye, while a reflecting cylinder reveals an image having normal proportions. This technique is essentially the reverse of a fun-house mirror which creates a distorted image of a normally proportioned person.
During the 19th century, an optical toy called the Magic Mirror employed the process of anamorphosis to captivate children and adults alike. Manufactured by McLoughlin Brothers of New York City during the late 1800's, the excitement caused by Magic Mirror and its drawings were much like that of a Victorian Nintendo.
Although anamorphic art's primary application is entertainment, renderings of political figures and religious scenes occasionally form the basis of a social comment by the artist.
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