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This Pixelated Painting Tells the Story Behind Bosch's Magnum Opus!

Digitising the art world one painting at a time.

You no longer have to travel to the Museo del Prado in Madrid to see Hieronymus Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights, as it just became less earthly and more digital with the creation of an interactive documentary that is available to everyone online. This is the internet we have dreamed of, people!

 

The Garden

Image Via Wikimedia Commons

 

In a web interface the visitor will be taken on an audio-visual journey of the triptych oil painting to the position of their choice. Music, video, and high resolution images are included to enrich the storytelling of this very famous piece of art, dating from 1490 to 1510.

 

The project was created by photographers, filmmakers, and art historians as part of an upcoming documentary by Pieter van Huijstee, titled Hieronymus Bosch, Touched by the Devil. The painting can be explored in incredible detail down to its most minute brush strokes. In total, through its series of audio essays, it describes over forty areas of the painting.

 

For example, if you want to know why Bosch painted such gruesome images on the third panel, then all you have to do is zoom in and click on a text logo. Something like this will appear, audibly or visually explaining the part of the painting in depth:

 

Bosch

Image Via tuinderlusten-jheronimusbosch.ntr.nl

 

The body of another figure is pierced by the strings of an enormous harp. On top of the hurdy-gurdy sits a blind beggar. One more turn of the handle and the triangle-playing lady will lose her head. An ominous-looking fabled animal is beating the drum, while inside a man is trapped crying out in fear.

 

The church disapproved of anything other than religious music. Allowing spontaneous music-making would only lead to secular dancing and debauchery. No longer sources of amusement and pleasure, these musical instruments have been turned into instruments of torture. The sinner is punished and tortured with the very objects that lead to lewd and lascivious behaviour.

 

Visitors can treat the website like a book on a bookshelf, with the option of opening it up and putting it back at their leisure and reading about different stages of the painting whenever they want. The image is in such high resolution that you can zoom in to your heart's content and learn what life was like in the late Middle Ages, and in particular what role religion played in the daily lives of those featured in the masterpiece. 

 

New York's Peter S. Beagle, author of The Last Unicorn (1968), a famous fantasy novel, has called the painting an "erotic derangement that turns us all into voyeurs, a place filled with the intoxicating air of perfect liberty." With the artist having been 40 to 60-years-old while creating this piece, artists and students over the years have interpreted the intricate symbolism of the artwork as a dire warning on the perils of life's temptations or an evocation of ultimate sexual satisfaction. Either way, what we are seeing is pretty kooky.

 

Bosch

Image Via tuinderlusten-jheronimusbosch.ntr.nl

 

The perfect remedy for attempting to teach art history online seems to have arrived and we are impatiently waiting for the next interactive painting to be revealed.

 

Feature Image Via The Daily Beast