Preserving stereoscopic history of extraordinary people who have enriched our lives
Arthur Girling image by David BurderARTHUR GIRLING

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.

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 ComicsArthur Girling at ISU Buxton 1983 by Susan Pinsky 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)


Veteran Society member Arthur Girling died peacefully on 17th April at the age of 84, after a short spell in hospital.

Most present-day members of the Society will have known Arthur best for his wonderful and skillfully- executed stereo drawings, of which he was the acknowledged leading exponent in this country, and for the 
book in which he described his technique.conversion by Arthur Girling

Older members will recall the vast amount of work he did for the Society in the 1970s and early 80s, notably as the convenor of the London meetings when they first moved to the Mary Ward Centre and as the annual conventions organiser for several years.   He was a foundation member of the International Stereoscopic Union, in which he played a leading role in its early years as both Secretary and editor of its journal "Stereoscopy".

The pinnacle of his achievements came in 1983, when he organised the 
spectacularly successful ISU Congress in Buxton, after which he was content to retire to the back benches, though until the end he remained a familiar face at Society meetings.
                                                          - - Don Wratten APSA, LRPS  
(From The Stereoscopic Society Journal of 3-D Imaging No 149 Summer (July) 2000)

Arthur Girling image (originally a lenticular) by David BurderARTHUR GIRLING:
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 DimensionISU logo in 3-D by Arthur Girling 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.
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.
   Stereoscopic Drawing book written by Arthur Girling
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:

"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.  Girlingis 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."

Batman 3-D bookAnaglyph tower drawn by Arthur GirlingBy 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.

Preserving stereoscopic history of extraordinary people who have enriched our lives

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