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Steve D’Ippolito submitted these thoughts on perspective in medal design, inspired by Dick Johnson’s article last week. -Wayne Homren, Editor
Although the New York 9/11 medal is a striking design, the faulty perspective isn’t properly executed–the artist took quite a liberty here. (I am sure it was deliberate; proper perspective has been understood since the Renaissance.) No matter what type of perspective is employed, all of a group of parallel lines need to converge on one point, called the vanishing point. The towers being vertical lines, their vertical lines are parallel and should converge. Yet on the medal, the left tower’s vertical lines converge lower left, while the tower on the right, whose vertical lines should be parallel to the other tower’s lines, instead has its lines converging towards the upper right.
Here are a couple of photographs to show how it works in reality. The first is taken from between a pair of skyscrapers, though they aren’t the WTC:
Note that the lines don’t even have to be drawn off the corners of the building–ANY vertical line, even those between columns of windows, will converge to the same point because it’s parallel to every other vertical line.
And here’s the actual WTC, though not taken from a point between the towers.
In this case the point of convergence or vanishing point is outside the photo.
Whatever one may think of the merits of the medal design, one thing it surely isn’t is an example of vaulted perspective because it’s not even remotely done properly. I’m sure the artist did this deliberately, because it’s simply too glaring a mistake. While I heartily endorse the desire to memorialize what was destroyed on that awful day (I bought one of the medals myself), I found the incorrect perspective distracting. It suggests to me the towers caught in the act of toppling almost toward each other (even though they didn’t).
Which, come to think of it, could be exactly the impression the artist was trying to make.
You know, I thought something was a little off about that design, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I think Steve nailed it. -Wayne
On a related note, Dave Lange writes:
In reading Dick Johnson’s comments about the Fallen Heroes Medal, he commented that it depicts the new towers rising. It appears to me, however, that it actually depicts the old Towers 1 and 2 that were lost on 9-11.
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
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