Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pure Bosch

We've posted before about people making 3D versions of objects in Hieronymus Bosch paintings. Irresistible. Anyone who looks at of Bosch’s overwhelmingly intricate painting Garden of Earthly Delights, in the collection of the Prado in Madrid, is bound to be astonished by the inventiveness and surreal madness of the thing. What is that couple lying inside the glass Christmas decoration up to? Can’t the naked guy see that giant robin looking over his shoulder? So this is where Takashi Murakami gets his ideas from? These are the kind of questions that might run through your mind. Unless you’re an academic that is.

For instance when a team of academics and craftspeople in Oxford, from the Bate Collection of European orchestral woodwind instruments saw the painting, they zoomed in on the right hand panel where to their delight they saw naked people up to stuff with musical instruments. The scene obviously prompted a brainwave: why not replicate the instruments and then play them to bring a little fifteenth century music to life? Problem is when they made the instruments and sat down to play, the sound was disastrous. It's reported that some of the instruments were, "either impossible to make or painful to hear."

But hold up, let’s look at the images above more closely (click to enlarge). Surely the Bate team took rather a lot of liberties with Bosch’s original designs. The Bate flute doesn’t seem to play from a reed at the centre and the bulb on its stem is not at all like the Bosch one, the harp is quite different at the top and the mandolin-like thing has its sound hole (sorry musical experts) much higher than in the Bosch version. And what about that drum? Not even close. 

What is it about looking at a painting these guys don’t understand? Someone get Justin Paton on the phone.
Source: Sam Leith's hilarious story in the Guardian