June 01, 2013

The Leading Edge

Laurie Ristino

“Full warp speed ahead, Scotty.”
—Star Trek

Between 1884 and 1886 George Seurat painted A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte. The painting must have bewildered the general viewer at the time, painted as it was with a technique invented by the artist called “pointillism.” Pointillism is the use of tiny dots of color—which make little visual sense close up, but when one steps back a composed image emerges. Seurat’s technique was an exploration of color theory, the science of optics and perception. So, a charming scene of top-hats and parasols is inverted in a pixelated disruption, reflecting the immense changes wrought by industrialism.

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