Magazine cover’s trompe l’oeil

Nuts runs fake split cover

Nuts runs fake split cover

A friend of mine is a curator at the V&A museum. When she and her husband did their house up, he painted a trompe l’oeil on a door. It was done to look like a display cabinet containing china, with each piece a copy from the museum.

Like all the best examples of trompe l’oeil, you have to touch it to make sure it’s not real. And the idea can be found everywhere, from pottery, to buildings , clothes and murals.

Here’s an example from the newsagent’s shelves a few weeks ago. I saw this copy of Nuts in WH Smith at Euston and I had to touch it make sure it wasn’t really a split cover.

A modern manifestation of trompe l’oeil occurs in robotics and computer graphics. Another pal, who worked in the industry, told me of the ‘uncanny valley’. As CGI becomes more realistic, particularly renditions of the human face, the images become more ‘uncanny’ and we become more wary of them. We know they’re not real, but can’t quite put a finger on why. The nearer images of humans get to reality, the more uncanny they become.

But then babies can tell the difference between boys and girls at the age of one – better than we can as adults. At the end of it all, it’s about how the mind works – and that is a black hole.

Magazine front covers: special effects

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