aku-aku: v.. To move a tall, flat bottomed object (such as a bookshelf) by swiveling it alternatively on its corners in a "walking" fashion. [After the book by Thor Heyerdahl theorising the statues of Easter Island were moved in this fashion.] source: LangMaker.com. Aku Aku also has another meaning to the islanders: a spiritual guide.
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37 of 52: The Creation of Eve
Posted by dav at 2008 July 27 11:58 PM
File under: Art

My thing for this week: a snapshot of post-dinner relaxation tonight.

37 of 52: The Creation of Eve

I really enjoyed the first of these sorts of photos. It made me want to do a whole series of Last Supper photos, whenever I had a feast and 13 people I could arrange another shot. To facilitate this I want to design and print 13 placards. On one side of each placard will be the original painting, on the other side will be a close-up of one particular apostle (or savior) along with some meta data (name of the apostle, significance in the scene, etc). I could just pass these out in the proper order and very quickly get everyone to self organize for the photo. The whole process would probably take less than 5 minutes.

Then it occurred to me that I should do a whole series of these placards, so that I have one painting requiring N models where N is between 2 and 13. Then I can take a shot at almost any occasion with any group of people. So I'm working on this list of paintings now. The Creation of Adam is a nice one because it is instantly recognizable merely with model positioning (no props necessary to reliably evoke the original) but also you can pull it off reasonably with any number between 3 and 8 or so.

I flipped through a large art history tome and had problems coming up with others for the list though. So many paintings that the average person would consider famous aren't appropriate either because they are landscapes, or too abstract or too simple and/or require a difficult specific background/props to be instantly recognizable (like the Mona Lisa). They need to be realistic portraits of a small set of people with unique positioning. I'm thinking if I try really hard I can come up with maybe a couple dozen of these. Jeremy thinks he can find 100. So far the only other one I've found is Botticelli's The Birth of Venus (N=4). I'm looking forward to seeing Jeremy's list, I could really use some help! Feel free to make suggestions in the comments.

Comments:

N=1:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christina's_World
N=2:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drawing_Hands
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Gothic
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Gustav_Klimt_016.jpg
N=4:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nighthawks
N=5:
http://arthistory.about.com/od/from_exhibitions/ig/from_russia_1207/fr04_matisse.htm
http://painting.about.com/od/arthistorytrivia/ig/Gallery-of-Famous-Paintings/Picasso-Demoiselles.htm
N=7??:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:PicassoGuernica.jpg
N=7:
http://www.dogsplayingpoker.org/gallery/coolidge/a_friend_in_need.html
N=9:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatomy_Lesson_of_Dr._Nicolaes_Tulp
N=12-15:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luncheon_of_the_Boating_Party

By the way, you have accidentally reinvented a parlor game from the turn of the last century: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tableau_vivant
"Tableau vivant (plural: tableaux vivants) is French for "living picture." The term describes a striking group of suitably costumed actors or artist's models, carefully posed and often theatrically lit. Throughout the duration of the display, the people shown do not speak or move."

The way I heard it, during a party, one person would be selected to leave the room; while he or she was absent, the remaining people would create a tableau vivant and then the "it" person would have to come back in the room and guess the original work. Sort of like Charades or Pictionary but for people whose shared cultural education included many famous paintings.

Posted by: Alex Ch on August 12, 2008 06:17 PM

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