Churches of remathematization

[Image: "Adams in Saint Flour Cathedral," a 360°x180° panorama by Seb Przd].

Flickr user Seb Przd has been re-mathematizing his photographs of French cathedrals, using a program called MathMap.
The results are delirious whorls of rock and decoration, space folded onto itself and circled round again to match up with itself at the beginning. All very M.C. Escher-esque – but nonetheless exhilirating.

[Images: "Saint Etienne Two Times," taken inside Saint Etienne du Mont, Paris; another view of Saint Etienne du Mont; inside the same church; and a final view inside Saint Etienne du Mont, Paris. All photographs by Seb Przd].

Further clicking took me through to an entire Equirectangular Pool on Flickr, and further still to a specific Equirectangular set by another Flickr user called HamburgerJung. In particular, I like his shot "Treppe."
However, even then I found myself clicking back to look at images by Seb Przd, including "On the side of the cathedral," "Don't drink and pray," and "Notre-Dame de Reims."
If you look at enough of these, though, you begin to see that specific styles of architecture are better than others when it comes to this sort of optical distortion. The old stone cathedrals of Europe are fantastic, for instance, but modern – even art nouveau – structures look pretty lame, frankly. I also think meadow shots, or straight-up landscapes, just look really gimmicky.
So perhaps we should send Seb Przd, armed with a camera and loads of film, on a six month trip through Europe, photographing every Gothic cathedral from within...
A kind of optical encounter between Christianity and mathematics.

[Image: "The Ceiling and Columns of the Cathedral" by Seb Przd].

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Blogger Seb said...

Very nice write-up! where do you want me to start the trip?

February 17, 2007 2:24 AM  
Blogger Rita Novel said...

Virtual Museum 068
simple math of mirror copies

February 17, 2007 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the medieval church designers were fascinated by mathematics, not only the geometry required to build the churches, but in number symbolism which developed around the Catholic religion.

February 17, 2007 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, very nice work. Reminds me of some of the things I did for a CD design a few years ago, making Gothic corridors by the simple expedient of flipping photos of cathedral architecture.

February 19, 2007 8:37 AM  
Blogger cemenTIMental said...

Great photos! My panoramic video experiments look kind of like a primative version of this... I wonder how these more elaborate distortions (rather than mine which simply unwrap a spherical reflection) would look in motion!? @_@

February 19, 2007 4:15 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Hey Seb - Great photos. Why don't we start you off with Notre Dame, Chartres, and Cologne... moving on to Sainte-Chapelle, Salisbury, and St. Paul's. Then moving on to Hagia Sophia, St. Peter's, and Laon... by way of Winchester and Amiens...

Then we'll send you abroad for the Taj Mahal, and Angkor Wat, and the entire city of Prague...
I'd be thrilled to post any resulting images.

And awesome image, John. How'd you make that, exactly?

February 20, 2007 1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, thanks Geoff. Very easy, just find an appropriate tunnel-like photo--I was using scans of old photogravure plates--select half the image then copy and flip along the horizontal axis. Elaborate Gothic architecture of the Perpendicular variety works very well, creates symetrical tunnels that look like part of some Giger-esque spacecraft when rotated through 90 degrees.

February 20, 2007 11:25 PM  
Blogger Timtom said...

Cool! Thanks for sharing, and for another excellent article.

Makes me think of Flickr user gadl' "wee planets", an interesting use of 360° panoramas if I ever saw one...

March 01, 2007 1:33 PM  

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