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Focus: The 3D Myth (Craig and Bresee)

The following is excerpted from my essay,  Slouching Towards Emmaus;  

In 1994, Dr. Emily A. Craig and Dr. Randall R. Bresee, a couple of University of Tennessee forensic researchers, published a paper, “Image Formation and the Shroud of Turin” in the prestigious Journal of Imaging Science and Technology (Volume 34, Number 1, 1994). Quoting from the abstract:

Both the first written historical record and modern radiocarbon analysis date the cloth known as the shroud of Turin to the 13th or 14th century. Interestingly, many people have remained convinced that the cloth was used as the burial shroud of Jesus and thus must be approximately 2000 years old. The primary reason usually cited for this belief is the inability of scientists to explain how a 13th or 14th century artist could have created the image on the cloth that is continuous tone, exhibits fine detail without brush strokes, is a negative image, and accurately represents an abundance of three-dimensional information. In this paper, we will show how the carbon dust drawing technique used by medical illustrators can be modified to produce images exhibiting numerous features of the Turin cloth.

And they did.  As Al Adler stated:

Craig and Bresee have described a dry powder transfer technique that appears to give acceptable VP-8 characteristics. This sounds satisfactory until one discovers they are actually making the copy from an image of the Shroud face itself. The question then becomes where did the artist get the original from which to make the copy.

Chemically, and in many other ways, Craig and Bresee did not succeed in replicating the Shroud’s image. But the point that must be made here is that once again, the notion that the Shroud’s 3D characteristics are unique is demonstrably false.  It doesn’t matter if they were copying the Shroud’s image. They weren’t trying to make an exact copy. They were doing what forensic scientists do, looking for a way that might work. With dust and daubing brushes and quite a bit of stylistic freedom, they created a picture with 3D characteristics. 

Lee Jones, who was paying attention to social media commentaries on the Shroud, decided to confirm this by plotting Craig and Bressee’s image. Craig and Bressee called their proposed method a carbon dust drawing. Adler had referred to it as dry powder transfer. Artists sometimes call the process daubing. Take a daubing brush and apply some dry pigment. It is the primary method for applying cosmetic powder to one’s face. I can fully imagine creating an image like Craig and Bressee’s by copying a real person’s face.  Lee Jones, with a few clicks of a mouse, showed us that Craig and Bressee – and Accetta – were right. 

Spectacularly right. 

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