Tuesday, 5 February 2013
Mathematism, part the First
And so it begins, my inevitable descent into uncontrollable OCD. I want to get this model as accurate as possible, so with a red pencil, a near-dead iPod as a calculator, and a pink tape measure more suited to the fashion lot upstairs, I set out to calculate as many of the values in this piece as possible. As you can see, I didn't get anywhere close.
However, I did make two critical discoveries; first, this etching actually has a vanishing point. The horizon is about 50 feet below the shot. Second, Piranesi is not using the 70 degree field of view of a human eye here; the camera angle is about 135 degrees. No wonder the perspective looks weird. Given the time these etchings were made (1760-ish) and the amount of knowledge about perspective that was available then, I suspect Piranesi's camera angle was a (mercifully consistent) mistake, rather than an artistic choice. It also explains why I was having such trouble reproducing the shot in Maya.
This will be continually updated overthe next few days as I nail down all the measurements. Watch this space for an exercise in dullness and pedantry.