Be prepared! Sounds like a dire warning, especially if what is to be unveiled is a 3-D image of Jesus Christ according to digital technology.
Computer artists – and I shall let that term go – have used information available from the 14-foot long Shroud of Turin, the only available evidence that had blood. dirt and stains. History Channel is to air ‘The Real Face of Jesus’ that used the impression they got from the linen on the body of Christ.
"The shroud wasn't hanging on the wall - it was wrapping a corpse. The face is hidden in there. By imitating those distortions we could take the image and put it back into shape and figure out what the face looked like. It gave us a blueprint," said Ray Downing from the computer imaging company.
Is it important to know what the man looked like? Christianity, like most faith systems, crosses cultures and borders. People like to imbue their god-figures, as they do their legends, with a dose of the local culture. It is true that thus far Christ has been portrayed in the Caucasian mould despite not being from the region. This is part of the way religions grow and are taken over by the superior races.
However, we cannot discount that paintings and sculptures by artists too took liberty when portraying such images. Was it artistic license or a personal fervor? Unless it was within the confines of the church, would such images be dictated to by those in charge of a version of the faith?
Christ has most often been shown on the Cross in popular culture because that is what he symbolised. It then begs the question whether his potency remained as symbol or does humanising him have greater value?
Would this digital face really be seen as the true face? It is scientifically fascinating and therefore ironical that when there are doubts about the Shroud itself, we have a community of rationalists trying to recreate a face based on it.
As a non-religious person who understands the idea of belief, I think that faith in anything depends not on a figure but on one’s own sense of connecting. If you believe in the power of the ocean, then you will not alter your opinion based on changing tides. Images are like tides.
And portraits do convey more about what the artist thinks than what the subject was.
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The Real Face of Christ