Here’s another solution for panoramas. It’s actually a 360 degree pan viewer, one of those virtual world things that are about as old as interactivity on the world wide web. But the person (Audrey Scott) using it is a travel photographer and her goal is to present a beautiful photograph of the pyramid at the Louvre. The solution has it’s problems, but I’m taking it into account as I think about my lightbox project.
My immediate question is, Is it Photography?
Technically, yes. It uses a camera and it takes a photographer’s expertise to take all of the necessary photos, properly exposed with consistency and then stitched together. But where is the editing? Where is the artists choice? In where she plops herself down? In what light to take the picture? Is that sufficient? My gut answer to all of this is no, but I seem to be talking myself into a yes.
But there is something un-expressive about taking a picture of everything, about leaving nothing out (or as little as humanly possible). Isn’t the art of image making as much about what you leave out as what you put in? But now I’m starting to sound like a stuffy old wannabe art critic which I am not. And it is pretty cool to be able to stand outside the Louvre from my computer. I just can’t call it art anymore than I can the cool things that Google does, such as Google Earth or especially the Google Art Project (which if you haven’t seen it you must go now). Then again, photography is what you make of it, it’s only art if you want it to be.
From a programming standpoint the 360-degree viewer would be fun to make. The stitching together of the photographs couldn’t have been easy since the people are consistent (frozen in place) from frame to frame, and there are a large number of people there. But I would have to do something about the wide angle distortion that is so apparent, especially when you pan (this problem might be unsolvable). And the mechanism of panning is very clunky, so 10 years ago.
It’s just a silly coincidence that I’m talking about the Louvre today, but only a week or so ago Puja and I were talking about the Louvre and researching I. M. Pei’s addition. We were discussing the similarities between his addition to the Louvre and his addition to the National Gallery in Washington DC, which we used to frequent when we lived there. We were surprised to learn the National Gallery addition came first and thought this ironic, since Washington DC is such a deliberate copy of Paris, but Pei managed to make Paris copy DC in this small but significant way. (That discussion started when we were watching the Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris, and noticing how incredible the similarities are between Paris and Washington DC, which we had always heard about but the movie shows so much of Paris it just couldn’t be missed).