...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Art and reality

Walking in the streets of Norrköping, who would expect to see a picture of Norrköping itself? I see this graffiti each time I go to Swedish class...

...and above is a photo I took two years ago from the school library. The yellow building is called Strykjärnet ("The Iron"), so called because of its odd shape that resembles a clothes iron. (The graffiti artist tried to capture this by drawing the building in the corner of the wall). Strykjärnet now houses the Museum of Work, aptly, because it used to be a cotton mill.

The most interesting thing is that the artist's rendition is not panoramic but in 180-degrees, which is why the bridge is in the "wrong place", even if the buildings just beside Strykjärnet seem to be in their right places. To see the perspective I had in the real (second) picture above, I would actually need to be in the big brick building in the leftmost part of the graffiti, behind the bridge. So I am looking at myself, who has a view of the second picture, in the first picture, but the exact view that I see in the second picture is contained in the first picture as well! (In other words, the viewer and the viewed are both contained in the picture. I am looking at myself from the perspective of the view and looking at the view in front of me at the same time – which is of course "impossible").

It's like being the character in M.C. Escher's Print Gallery!* (Click the link for a picture, which I can't show here for copyright reasons, I guess.)

* "And finally, the tightest of all Strange Loops is realized in Print Gallery: a picture of a picture which contains itself. Or is it a picture of a gallery which contains itself? Or of a town which contains itself? Or a young man who contains himself?" – Got this blog idea from Gödel, Escher, Bach, where Douglad Hofstadter writes the above quote on Escher's print.


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