Stereoscopy

Behold One Rose my submission to the Sebastopol Center for the Arts 2017 Members Show Small Work, Big Deal. In the style of a Victorian parlor amusement, the digital print of a rose is presented as a stereograph against a black velvet background surrounded by a cheesy gold frame, along with an equally tacky gold chain supporting a set of 3D viewing glasses. It is a modern example resulting from the history of stereoscopy.

It may look like two images, but they are combined into one stereoscopic rose.

Ptolemy studied physiological disparity, correspondence and the visual horopter in 130 AD. He had all the data to build a theory of depth perception but it was only later in 1000 AD, that Alhazen associated depth perception with the sensation of binocular convergence. With the development by Isaac Newton of the concept of retinal correspondence and the fusion of the retinal images in the brain, a cerebral mechanism of disparity detection became thinkable.

One of the first applications of stereoscopy in the 1830’s was the stereoscope, devised by Sir Charles Wheatstone, an English inventor of many scientific breakthroughs including an encryption technique known as the Playfair cipher and the development of the Wheatstone bridge, which is used to measure an electrical resistance. Initially, only very simple line drawings of shapes, like a cube or a pyramid, could be used.

As photography developed as a commercial medium during the 1840s, it was realised that it was perfect for producing stereoscopic images. Special stereoscopic cameras were developed to take the left and right images simultaneously, with two lenses separated by around the same distance as human eyes. David Brewster devised a viewer by using lenses which allowed a compact, portable device to be produced. Queen Victoria was amused by his viewer at the Great Exhibition 1851 and helped spawn a craze.

Today, many movies are shot using separate left and right view lenses to create 3D effects for the theatre. This technique differs from the traditional stereoscopic devices by using polarized filters to separate the images for the eyes, but the effect is nearly the same. It is expected that additional breakthroughs will be made for 3D technology as virtual reality games and applications become increasingly popular.

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cbirdesign

Chris Bird is a designer for print and web specializing in the development of marketing materials for a varied spectrum of clients. He currently resides in Santa Rosa, California. His music website is at www.studio1057.com and his painting and fine arts website is located at cbird167.weebly.com