FRS 123 - Technology in Art and Cultural Heritage

Fall 2006

Course home Outline and lecture notes Assignments

Final Project

Due Tuesday, Jan. 17


1. Write an essay about restoration

The recent cleaning of the Sistine Chapel ceiling suggests that Michelangelo, rather than employing the Renaissance discovery that shadows should be dark, tending toward black, instead adhered to medieval tradition, in which shadows were fully saturated with color. If correct, then this radically changes our view of Michelangelo and his art. If, on the other hand, we have cleaned away Michelangelo's intended tones, as some critics claim, then we have ruined his masterpiece forever. Read one of the many books about the cleaning. Then read James Beck's scathing condemnation of it in Art Restoration: the Culture, the Business, and the Scandal (available in Marquand Library). Then, in turn, read some of the critiques of Beck and Daley (such as this one - a local copy: page 1, page 2).

Summarize the arguments made on both sides, then argue either for or against the restoration. Who is right?

Send your essay to by Jan 17.

2. Build a Hoogstraten-inspired perspective peep-show

A peepshow is a box with a painted interior which, when seen through a small "peephole", seems to become a "real," three-dimensional scene. See the complementary material for an example discussing Hoogstraten's peepshow from the 17th century.


For this project, you are going to build a peepshow depicting a scene of your choice. Use a stiff box of cardboard, wood, or styrofoam. You may either paint the scene onto the interior walls of the peepbox, or you may attach print-outs of digital images that you have perspectively distorted within an image editing software such as Photoshop. Use at least three walls of the box to build the illusion.

You will have to find out how the images at the walls of the peepbox have to be distorted so that they appear to have a common vanishing point when viewed through the peephole. If all walls have been distorted correctly, the view through the peephole should not show any image discontinuities along the edges of the box.

To further increase the effect of the illusion, you may add additional objects to the scene. Try to place small objects within the peepbox that blend in with the scene when viewed through the peephole. Following Hoogstraten's example, you may also add a second peephole opposite to the first one, allowing for two different views of the scene.

At least one side of the box has to remain open to allow for light entering the scene. By covering the open side with translucent paper, you ensure an even illumination within the box, minimizing illumination differences between the different walls that may disturb the illusion.

Submitting your results

Write a short summary (400 words max) describing your work, and take a photograph through the peephole to document the impression of your illusion. Send your description together with the photograph to We will also schedule a meeting where you will have the opportunity to present your work in person.

Last update 29-Dec-2010 11:58:01
smr at princeton