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The Vitruvian Man 2.0: If Leonardo Da Vinci Worked In Polygons

“Wouldn’t it be great if Picasso or Salvador Dali knew how to create a Light Canvas?”

The Vitruvian Man 2.0: If Leonardo Da Vinci Worked In Polygons

“Wouldn’t it be great if Picasso or Salvador Dali knew how to create a Light Canvas?” That rhetorical question, posed to me by Jean-Michel Verbeeck, might explain his latest creation better than anything else.

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At his studio Konstruktiv, Verbeeck has melded the classical with the avant garde. He’s created a sort of digital Vitruvian Man, or maybe a Vitruvian Man from the approach of the New Aesthetic. It’s called Innovates, and it’s an art installation of a figure who stands with his arms stretched out. But rather than fitting within the confines of a circle or a square, he’s simply exploding with polygons.

There are moments where it looks, for lack of a better term, so real. Yet the image itself is actually 2-D. That’s because Verbeeck uses an approach he calls the Light Canvas.

The term may make you think of televisions, but in reality, he’s actually just using a single projector on a flat surface. “A projector cannot project the color black, and when we draw the color black we can create an illusion of depth,” Verbeeck explains. Projectors, of course, can attempt to project black, but as black is really the absence of light, this principle is impossible.

So Verbeeck creates his polygonal animations as you see them, but before projection, he removes the black outlines from his images. Then he tapes these outlines to the canvas itself. The result is a flat projection that pops with incredible contrast. “We have a flat surface in our ‘real’ world that we can touch, feel, and experience, and the animations are projected as the ‘digital’ world,” he explains.

But the very workflow also supports Verbeeck’s deeper thesis. “The whole technical idea behind the installation is that we get confused about what is physical and what is virtual,” he explains. “I prefer to see my work as a tool to explore our subconsciousness, to take a dive into our spiritual world and bring our dreams to our physical world.”

By blurring these lines (quite literally), as to what is real and what is not, Verbeeck transforms optical illusion into a statement into itself: Analog or digital, spiritual or corporeal, any world is made real once we see it.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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