[alt-photo] Re: bottom-weighting mats

Dave S (fotodave) fotodave at dsoemarko.us
Wed Nov 30 18:43:57 GMT 2011

Originally the practice is used for paintings, and it started in the old
days where paintings are often hung very high in a houses (above the door
and near the ceiling... imagine big museums, white house or buildings like
that). When you look up at a painting like that, the bottom part is closer
to your eye. Because of that, the brain expect it to be larger than the
further side, but in reality the perspective distortion is not big enough to
create a significant difference. So if both top and bottom are of the same
size, the brain actually perceived the bottom to be smaller (because it
expects bigger but it is the same)! This is opposite to what we think, but
it is just an optical illusion that occurs.

So to compensate for that, artists would make the bottom a little taller
than the top.

Today we hang our art works about eye level, so there is no real need for
bottom compensation, but as always happening in arts, the bottom weight
became a style in itself, and since people were so used to it, pictures look
a little strange if they are not matted that way. Then of course in arts,
some people like changes and don't like to follow certain rules, so the
trend might turn back to same size top and bottom.

In summary, there is no real need now as there was in the past (and I mean
past century or two centuries ago), so I guess it is a personal preference


-----Original Message-----
From: alt-photo-process-list-bounces at lists.altphotolist.org
[mailto:alt-photo-process-list-bounces at lists.altphotolist.org] On Behalf Of
Christina Anderson
Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 11:08 AM
To: Alt List
Subject: [alt-photo] bottom-weighting mats

How many of you bottom weight your mats and if so by how much? I have been
told that contemporary work has abandoned that practice, but uses mats of
equal size all the way around. Short of bringing a tape measure with me to
galleries, input on both sides of this issue much appreciated.
Christina Z. Anderson

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