iPad iBook Review: Virtual History - The Last Supper Reviewed by Guy Dayen
After the success of Virtual History ROMA, the developers at Mondadori come back to the fray with their second Virtual History app: Virtual History - The Last Supper. It is an incredible in-depth exploration of one of Leonardo Da Vinci most famous works, second only to the Mona Lisa. Anyone interested in Da Vinci, religious history or art history will find this new app to be a treasure trove of information. Most people will never have the chance to go to Milan and see this masterpiece in person. Virtual History - The Last Supper is the next best thing to being there. In fact, it will afford closer views than would ever be possible even if one were to make the trip to Italy.
In Virtual History - The Last Supper, one is able to explore Da Vinci?s 15th century master work from a few different angles. For instance, Da Vinci?s use of perspective can be experienced by moving into the picture, zooming in to an incredible degree and seeing how each part of the whole relates to the central focus point of the painting. You can move inside a 3D recreation of the painting. In fact, one can literally turn the tables, and see the painting as if one were standing behind the apostles, and looking back out of the painting. It?s an incredibly innovative and engaging way to interact with the painting. All I could say as I was looking at this app was: ?Wow !?
The Last Supper brings you right into the dining hall of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. This is where Da Vinci painted his masterpiece, on a commission from Ludovico Sforza. At the time of painting, the room was to be a family mausoleum, but ultimately, it became a refectory for the monks. There is a virtual 360 degree tour of the room, so one can see every detail of the place where the painting still resides. To see the room, one simply stands, holds up the iPad at eye level, and spins around in place. It works flawlessly, but I?d like to be able to move the view by swiping the screen, because it?s not always possible to stand and pirouette. I?m not sure I could do that on an airplane, for example. I might get some mighty funny looks !
To give thematic, detailed information, the developers at Mondadori make use of successive transparent overlays. This is a wonderful method to explain different aspects of the painting by drawing attention to specific details, and highlighting various parts of the painting in turn.
Virtual History - The Last Supper also functions as a virtual time machine. From Da Vinci?s preliminary sketches to the progressive layering of paint on stucco, the Last Supper will come alive as it progresses to the final finished product. This affords an unprecedented understanding of the evolution of the painting.
I took a couple of art history classes in college, and I have to say, they were nothing like this. There just wasn?t the technology available to present a masterwork in such details; and the innovative approaches simply weren?t possible at the time. I hope that any art history teacher who wants to inspire students will have the opportunity to use Virtual History - The Last Supper in the classroom. The developers did their research and managed to create an amazing resource for teachers and students. To be clear, though, it is geared principally to the general public, and it will most certainly bring a lot of pleasant hours to anyone with an interest in art. It is hands-down one of the very best art-related apps available on iTunes today, and I highly recommend it.