Do Not Adjust Your Viewing

Human advancement: it is usually found to be in pursuit of ‘the best’ and, more often than not, when we talk about ‘the best’ we mean the greatest; the biggest; the most excessive.  Take one entirely random example: digital display technology.  The emphasis is usually on superlatives: the highest resolution computer monitor; the largest image capture on a camera; the greatest number of dpi to achieve maximum veracity.  But is this quest for increasing excellence really necessary?  In the world of digital displays, there is a lot to be said for an alternative approach.

Typically, humans recognise images at a much lower level of resolution than the pursuit of technological optimisation would suggest; a much lower level.  Decreasing the resolution of digital displays benefits the speed of data transfer, memory storage, and pure production economics.  Perhaps rather than ask how high is the spec. we require of our digital image, a more important question to pose is how low can we make it.

To illustrate the point, Os Bros have taken six famous paintings, from a representative range of time periods and artistic movements, and attempted to reduce their pixel content whilst still maintaining their identifiability.

Can you recognise these famous images?  At what pixel resolution do the images retain something of the artist’s integrity and become clear and self-evident, and at what point do they simply disintegrate into a mess of Tetris blocks?

scream 10

fighting temeraire 10

laughing cavalier 10

sunflowers 10

salvator mundi 10

composition 10

At a width/height of 10 pixels it is not easy.

scream 25

fighting temeraire 25

laughing cavalier 25

sunflowers 25

salvator mundi 25

composition 25

At 25 pixels it is considerably easier, particularly if you screw up your eyes, or stand back from the screen.

scream 50

fighting temeraire 50

laughing cavalier 50

sunflowers 50

salvator mundi 50

composition 50

At 50 pixels, pretty much everything is clear.

400 scream original

400 fighting temeraire original

400 laughing cavalier original

400 sunflowers original

400 salvator mundi original

400 composition II in red, blue, and yellow original


The originals are Munch’s The Scream; Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire; Hals’ The Laughing Cavalier; Van Gogh’s Sunflowers; Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi; and Mondrian’s Composition II in Red, Blue and Yellow.

© Os Bros


Artists, Os Bros, thank you for viewing.



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