by John Dennis
Stereo artist, author, and founding member of the International Stereoscopic Union Arthur Girling died April 17, 2000 at the age of 84. He had served as both secretary of the group and as editor of Stereoscopy, as well as organizing annual conventions for the Stereoscopic Society in England through the 1970s and early '80s.
Portrait of Arthur Girling by David Burder
1983 Arthur Girling hosting the anaglyph demonstration table at the International Stereeoscopic Union Convention in Buxton, England by Susan Pinsky
1983 Clare Wing and Arthur Girling at International Stereoscopic Union convention in Buxton UK
by Susan Pinsky
Arthur Girling - from a lenticular image by David Burder
NSA member Girling became known internationally for his expertise in stereoscopic drawing techniques following the 1990 publication of his book Stereoscopic Drawing — A Theory of 3-D Vision and its Application to Stereoscopic Drawing. In his Stereo World review (Vol. 17 No. 5, page 19), 3-D conversion artist Ray Zone said of the book:
"Setting forth as it does some of the fundamental principles of stereoscopic drawing, it fills a void in the bibliography of 3-D. Furthermore, it provides a theoretical grounding for the consideration of what is (after 150 years) still a "new" art form, a medium created expressly for binocular enjoyment....Without a theoretical context for decades, this new art form has been relegated to the status of "novelty" or "gimmick". The complex dynamics of displaying this art form have been kept in cultural backwaters for years. Now, with the publication of this book, 3-D drawing and conversion can be integrated into the world of fine art and general aesthetics."
In the same Stereo World issue as the above, Arthur Girling reviewed the 3-D conversion work of Ray Zone in the 80 page, 1990 DC Comics publication Batman 3D.
Commenting on the loss of Arthur Girling in his keynote speech to the 2000 NSA Convention in Mesa, Ray Zone credited him for his influence, noting that "This gentle, precise and wonderful man inspired me with his 3-D conversions .... He was most generous with his time and his advice."
Girling's penchant for satire wasn't limited to his stereo drawings. His 1976 "Instant Gobblede-gook" article (reprinted in the July, 2000 issue of The Stereoscopic Society Journal) provides sets of interchangeable phrases to be used in writing comments about the stereographs in folios or in competitions. My favorite is number 4 from Table B. The gobbledegook phrase (Part 1) is "...the emergent potential of the subordinated features..." while the more direct phrase (number 4, part 2) is "...this flat, washed-out landscape where only the dust spots are stereoscopic..".
ISU and Stereoscopic Society gatherings have lost one of their most delightful and gentle participants. In his familiar bow tie, with his special sense of humor and ability to both produce and inspire 3-D drawings and anaglyphs, Arthur Girling will truly be missed.
(From Stereo World Vol 27, No 2 May/June 2000)
1985 Thomas Handchin, Arthur Girling, Pat Whitehouse and David Burder International Stereoscopic Union convention Wash. DC by Susan Pinsky
A Stereoscopic Artist
by Ray Zone
For many years I have been intrigued by the stereoscopic drawings of Arthur Girling. I first encountered them in the pages of "Stereoscopy" (No. 8, 1979) published by the International Stereoscopic Union (ISU). A lovely series of four stereo pairs created by Girling are reproduced on page 11 of this issue. Three of them are stereo conversions of club logos for the ISU, the Stereoscopic Society and the Third Dimension Society.
The fourth is an intricate geometric rendering with a dramatic depth effect. Long before I began my own career with stereo conversion I pondered the fine work evident in these lovely 3-D images and drew inspiration from them.
A typical Girling 3-D version of a Heath Robinson drawing of that title.
After a 50 year career in Stereography, both as a dedicated amateur and a professional, Arthur Girling has passed away. He was in his mid-eighties, so we can safely say that Arthur was a stereographer for more than half of his life. He was a sweet and very soft-spoken man who practiced the stereographic art with a great sense of history and a delicate precision. Thankfully, Arthur had the foresight to self-publish a magnum opus called "Stereoscopic Drawing, A Theory of 3-D Vision and Its Application to Stereoscopic Drawing" in 1990. It is a handsome casebound hardback book with 96 black-and white pages and 11 gorgeous anaglyphic plates.
1986 Wilf Lees, Peter Wearing, David Burder, Arthur Girling and Eddie Butt
in P Group
An example of one of Arthur Girling's "raised base" stereo conversions.
1983 Buxton International Stereoscopic Union convention Greg Taylor of Stereo Photography Unlimited and Arthur Girling UK by Susan Pinsky
With "Stereoscopic Drawing," Arthur demonstrated the exact theoretical foundations of his own work by examining the 19th century writings and art of Charles Wheatstone and Sir David Brewster. I reviewed "Stereoscopic Drawing" for the November/December 1990 issue of Stereo World and offered the following remarks:
1999 Stereoscopic Society Bournemouth UK Arthur Girling, Jean Soulas
and David Burder fisheye by Susan Pinsky
"Stereoscopic Drawing is a unique marriage of the theoretical and the pragmatic. In the absence of any database on the subject, Girling has been forced to invent techniques for implementing 3-D conversion of existing images and 'pure' 3-D drawing of geometric solids.
"Girling provides information to the reader on the basic parameters of anaglyphic drawing and in a subsequent chapter on 'Drawing the Double Image or Stereo Pair,' he addresses means by which a free standing projection drawing may be contrived. He offers techniques for creating raised base drawings and fabricating images 'in the round.'
"With a chapter on special effects the author considers some of the perceptual anomalies that are only possible with binocular vision. Girling is well grounded in the psychology of vision and his speculations on stereoscopic anomalies are to the point. Under consideration in this chapter are such phenomena as pseudostereo, hyper/ hypo, random dot stereograms, monocular stereo, cardboarding, multiplane stereo and 'impossible figures.'
"In discussing the dynamics of stereopsis, Girling is setting forth some of the aesthetic potential of 3-D drawing and conversion. Many stereoscopic techniques are available in these arenas that would be difficult, if not impossible, to apply to stereophotography proper. These techniques exploit the interactive character of stereo perception and the mysterious realm of the brain and its role in vision."
1983 Arthur Girling at the International Stereoscopic Union Convention
in Buxton, England by Lou Smaus
1991 International Stereoscopic Union convention Paris, France
Arthur Girling and Sue Makinson by David Starkman
By a happy circumstance, in the same issue of Stereo World, Arthur reviewed the "Batman 3-D" graphic novel which I had just produced and was very insightful and kind in commenting on my work with 3-D comics. "The stereographer making sequences for projection would find it worth while to study these drawings," he wrote. "A close study of the anaglyph sequences will give stereographers a fresh outlook which could influence the composition of their pictures and bring much needed variety into the presentation of a sequence."
Recently, Arthur was kind enough to lend me his copy of Wheatstone's 1838 paper "Contributions to the Physiology of Vision." He had lovingly prepared his copy of the treatise into an annotated chapbook bound together by hand. Among stereographers, Arthur Girling will be remembered for his landmark work in the field of 3-D drawing.