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Photographer's Note

The moving sidewalk, a human conveyor belt, was near its end. The woman on the left had just bent over to pick up her suitcase. Of course, the man in the center was checking his mobile phone — a necessity for people modern life. The scene was the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I had just flown in from Washington, DC, preparing for a change of flight to Madison, Wisconsin.

Of course, the focal point of the photo is the Mona Lisa, the most famous portrait on the globe, and the original which is hanging in the Musé du Louvre in Paris. Eighty-four percent of the visitors to the Louvre are there to see this portrait and not the tens-of-thousands of other magnificent works in the museum.

My friends who know me also know that as a scientist-artist, I've had a lifelong love affair with the Mona Lisa. They know that Leonardo da Vinci, the ultimate scientist-artist and the creator of the portrait, has been my cultural hero. And I've written two books about Leonardo, "Math and the Mona Lisa" for Smithsonian Books and "Leonardo's Universe" for National Geographic Books. So, being present at this scene immediately attracted my attention. I took half a dozen photos, focusing on the portrait while the travelers sailed by. I liked this particular shot better than the others since it had the most number of individuals. Also, good art is meant to be "open-ended." The Portrait of Mona Lisa is open-ended, with everyone walking away with a different impression, "She looks confident," "She looks perplexed," "She looks happy," "She is pregnant..." Leonardo ultimate message to the viewer is "In my notebooks and paintings, I've communicated with you, but only up to a point. The rest is withheld since it is my destiny to know more than you will ever know!"

In the word "SMILE" the letter "S" is missing. Will the viewer wonder is the message really just "MILE?" How could I have allowed one of the travelers to block a letter? It was not intended.

In the far right in the portrait just above the white border there is a bridge. For hundreds of years the bridge was thought to be a figment of Leonardo's imagination. I joined TE exactly ten years ago when I saw a photo posted showing the actual bridge by a former TE-member, Sabrina Pezzoli. It is the Ponte Buriano in Arezzo not far from Florence. The rocky cliffs on the left were also thought to have been figments of Leonardo's imagination. I learned through TE-members Sabrina and Stella Marinazzo that these are the Balze Rocks in Valdarno.

In the workshop I posted a posed photo of my wife riding the conveyor belt.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6790 W: 479 N: 12132] (41125)
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