Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Wee Bit More on Foreshortening

You remember how, recently, I was claiming that foreshortening is all in your head? Not long after that, I drew a drawing that illustrated, for me anyway, that very point:

Alley, 2011, pencil on paper, 15"x11"

There are two ways you would ordinarily think to describe Alley's face in this drawing - either as "viewed from a low angle" or "foreshortened." Now, why would you think it was foreshortened? Functionally speaking, the head is like a sphere. And as I explained in the earlier post ad nauseam, a sphere is just as foreshortened from any angle as from any other angle. You think of the head as foreshortened because the plane you are most used to seeing face-on - the actual plane of the face - is seen in foreshortened perspective. The classification "foreshortened" is, in this instance, demonstrably arbitrary: it distinguishes between a familiar perspective and an unfamiliar perspective, on an object which has no fundamental topological distinction between the two perspectives.

Let's turn to Rabbi Nachman of Bratslov (1772-1810) for the moral of this story:

"The whole world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing, is not to be afraid at all."

Oh, there's another moral to the story - I nearly forgot. This same drawing is included here; that's my first blog post at, the online presence of American Artist magazine. If you're enjoying this blog, you might want to check in with me over there sometimes too. The posts will be just like these ones, except for they'll be much briefer, more technical, and won't include any swearing. So actually, they'll be nothing like these posts. Except for, ahem, the authorial voice. Woo hoo, authorial voice! Anyhoo, I'm psyched.


  1. Congrats on the blog over at artistdaily! I look forward to the unfamiliar perspective of your authorial voice sans cursing, and will try not to think of it as foreshortened.

  2. Thanks a fuckin' lot, Ed! You may proceed with your foreshortened theory.

  3. Is that what Artist Daily asked for? - "Just like your blog, but briefer, more technical, and no swearing?" You don't have that much swearing on here. I'd think they'd be more concerned about all the &%#! philosophy you spew around like a drunken professor.

    Anyway, congratulations!

  4. Thanks Fred! And no, they didn't ask for the no swearing, but they're a family-friendly venue, more or less. They did ask for the word count and the more practical utility. I like spewing philosophy! I'm drunk on philosophy, dammit! glug glug glug critique of pure reason hiccup