Friday, December 16, 2005

Mona Lisa's enduring magic


She has mystified and captivated us, yet nothing seems to diminish the enigma surrounding Mona Lisa. What exactly does she feel, is a question artists and scientists have explored for centuries. Is she sad, reflective, happy, disgusted…what? Leonardo Da Vinci’s epic creation invites any number of interpretations depending on the state of mind of the observer. Whatever you may be thinking, Mona Lisa seems to empathize. It’s not just that the contours of the painting are brilliant; it is also the mischief, the “I-know-what-you-did-last-summer” look in the eyes that confounds many.

Now scientists have tried dwelling into the mind, rather face of history’s perennial treasure trove by using a software that recognizes a person’s emotions by examining the face. They have concluded that Mona Lisa is 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry. You may make what you think of the discovery. The software must be, no doubt, a sophisticated one, but one still scratches the head on such a neat demarcation of the emotions that a person feels. It’s too mathematical for my taste and I would like to think that emotions and lives are slightly more mixed up than that.

Anyway, it only establishes that the prima donna of the art world shall continue to hog headlines for a long time to come.

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