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It is commonplace to blur images and paint portraits or scenes as though they were blurry. Think of a photo of a person or object or scene. Now imagine it out of focus. In other words blurry. It might have been blurred deliberately by panning as it was shot or afterwards, with a digital treatment. That is a blurred image. If you have short sight and look at an object far enough away if will look blurry because it is out of focus.

My question is: has an object been constructed that successfully looks out of focus when someone with good eyesight looks at it. This object will in fact be in focus but because of the art and craft of the maker it will appear out of focus, ie blurry.

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    Commonplace where, and how? What do you mean with sculptural objects, in regard to them being blurry? Why would the appearance of a sculptural object become blurred when looking at it with one eye rather than two?
    – Joachim
    Apr 11 '20 at 9:42
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    Will you please provide an example (e.g., picture)? I am not even sure that I understand what you want / need...
    – virolino
    Apr 13 '20 at 8:45
  • Think of a photo of a person or object or scene. Now imagine it out of focus. In other words blurry. It might have been blurred deliberately by panning as it was shot or afterwards, with a digital treatment. That is a blurred image. If you have short sight and look at an object far enough away if will look blurry because it is out of focus. My question is: has an object been constructed that successfully looks out of focus when someone with good eyesight looks at it. This object will in fact be in focus but because of the art and craft of the maker it will appear out of focus, ie blurry.
    – Moonling
    Apr 13 '20 at 20:30
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    I think we know what 'blurry' means, but your original post was quite vague, and my original questions still stand.
    – Joachim
    Apr 14 '20 at 9:39
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The first thing that comes to my mind are the works by the contemporary German artist Gerhard Richter. He has a huge body of paintings that are famous for being blurred, like this one:

Gerhard Richter. October 18, 1977. 1988

Or, to a lesser but more photographic extent:

Gerhard Richter. Betty. 1988

Early 20th century, artists that were part of the futurism movement, wished to portray movement. This might no be exactly what you're looking for, but it does involve blurring, as this is one of the few methods that can be used to depict movement in a static, two-dimensional image (motion blur).
An example is this work by Giacomo Balla, 'Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash':

Giacomo Balla. Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash. 1912

In sculpture, similar things were tried during the futurist movement. An iconic example is 'Unique Forms of Continuity in Space', by Umberto Boccioni. Again, it does not come across as blurry, because the movement - the blur - has here been solidified:

Umberto Boccioni. Unique Forms of Continuity in Space. 1913

A similar, recent sculpture is made out of glass shards:

Costas Varostos. Dromeas. 1988

Because it's glass, the outlines are less defined, and the material even changes colour and brightness based on the environment. So not only does it depict blur, the sculpture itself is blurred against its background.

And another recent example of motion blur in sculpture is this work by Ryan Johnson, insinuating a more pixelated or artificial motion blur:

Ryan Johnson

Abstraction is (mainly, arguably) a simplification of form, something that blur results in as well. The problem with sculpture is that it needs solidity, mass, and volume, whereas visual blur, as Elmy mentions, is a visual phenomenon: it's essentially non-physical, non-solid, a mental interpretation. That's why it might be hard to find what you're looking for in a three-dimensional object (although I had hoped to find some sculptures made out of fur, or a similar material, as that has a natural blurriness to it. Like this

Meret Oppenheim. Object. 1936

but focused more on the visual quality of fur).

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  • Great answer! Lovely to see your thesis
    – spring
    Apr 22 '20 at 0:36
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I don't think it's possible to create a "blurry" object, because "blur" is a phenomenon that is tied to optics and the way we see, not the physical properties of an object.

You could argue that something like mist or smoke looks blurry, because the edges of the smoke aren't sharply defined, but neither are solid objects.

You could argue that fluffy fur looks blurry, because the fine tips of individual hairs kind of blend it into the background, but at an appropriate distance (or rather closeness) a person with good eye sight is able to distinguish single hairs from the background.

Some artists found their own way of "blurring" a sculpture by moving away from realism and into abstraction.

Here is a random example I found online (source):

pottery head

You probably see a human head with shoulders, but actually it's no more than an oval lump of clay on top of a flat rectangle. All the details are blurred, but an observer can still make out what is shown to them.

And another example (source):

enter image description here

You probably see a bee, but what's actually there is no more than a bunch of metal rods and rings. It doesn't even have a real body, only some rings suspended at a short distance, but our human brains can interpret the missing parts like a blurred picture and create the illusion of an animal.

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