Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

The Idiot Code

by Suzanne on January 17th, 2008

John the Baptist by Leonardo da Vinci, oil on canvas, c. 1513-1516

"The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence."

(From The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, translated by Jean Paul Richter)

Another year, another da Vinci mystery.

This time, it's the Crypto-Biblical People's Mirror Front of Judea led by a certain Mr Hugo Conti - a self-proclaimed "historian" - who think they have found yet another hidden code which da Vinci was obviously so eager to preserve for the movie industry of the 21st century.

By applying mirrors to more or less significant points in some of da Vinci's oeuvres, they believe to see visual messages of great biblical importance in his works.

In John the Baptist, when a mirror is placed over John's pointing hand, Conti can perceive "a half-woman and half-man" beneath the "Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden". Hmm... interesting... all I can see is Ghorrmæh - the cross-eyed four-legged sheep god in deep meditation. But then again, I'm no "historian"...

Da Vinci's John the Baptist - drastically altered improved by Mr Conti & The Mirror Front of Judea. Stunning!

Now... mirrors have been around in most parts of this world for up to 8000 years, yet Mr Conti and the Mirror Front seem to only just have discovered the magic they can do to images: Reflect them at a chosen point to create grotesque Rorschachesque images filled with hidden meaning and dark secrets.

Don't get me wrong, I deeply value and honour da Vinci as an incredibly visionary and gifted homo universalis with an almost anachronistic sense for environmental responsibility and future political and sociological problems. Yes, he was a talented right-to-left mirror writer, and yes, he was definitely inspired by mirrors - as were many other great and inspiring artists like Jan Van Eyck (Arnolfini Portrait), Albrecht Dürer (c.f. his self-portraits), down to M.C. Escher, Mark Mothersbaugh.. you name them! - but let's face it, his genius went far beyond cheap visual tricks, pareidolia and apocryphal cryptography.

So could these "historians" please get back to solving more serious art problems that keep the likes of me awake, like the anamorphic skull in Holbein's Ambassadors or Bosch's visionary early draft of a motorboat?

After all, there are eerie Old Testament secrets in all of us...

© and feat. Suzanne G.

Oh my! It's the Cyclops Face-Eater God who ate Noah's breakfast cereals before the Deluge!

© and feat. Suzanne G.

Eeeeeeeep! It's Nebuchadrezzar the Great!

¹ (Don't miss the sliiiiiiiiiiideshow! There's Darth Vader in there. In beta version!)