“The optical look is a stimulation of a single lens point of view projected on a 2D space” (Irvine, 2019). It is also known as realistic look, interpreting the real world. Johannes Vermeer is one of the artists using optical look to draw. “He learned how lenses and mirrors can be used to make projections of light from three-dimensional objects in space onto two-dimensional surfaces” (Irvine, 2019). One of his most famous paintings, Girl with a Pearl Earring, reflects this idea.
Girl with a Peal Earring is a typical portrait work. The light comes from the upper left outside the frame of the painting, highlighting the right side of the girl’s face and shading the other side of her face. The girl’s pupils and the pearl earring also reflect the light. This painting looks like someone makes a photograph for the girl, capturing her facial expression and the wrinkles of the clothes. Scarlett Johansson was shot a stage photo when making the film, Girl with a Pearl Earring, imitating the girl in the painting.
The comparison between the actress and the character of the painting emphasizes how the realistic painting and photograph represent the real world: the lens-based projection fixes a 2D image on a substrate. Camera works in the way that painters use their retina to capture the picture in front of them.