In the right hands, Microsoft's presentation software PowerPoint is a painting program. And those hands belong to Ziv Mizrahi, a 27 year-old copywriter, graphic designer and artist from Tel Aviv, whose “pptify” series recreates masterpieces using PowerPoint.
"It amuses me to connect the basic and the masterpiece,” says Mizrahi. The process consists of stripping down the classic works to their basic components, then recreating those components in PowerPoint.
"I look at the original painting, break it apart in my mind and then create it from scratch using the software's basic shapes," explains Mizrahi. "If there's a need for a more complex shape, I'll create it by merging other shapes. Other tools - shadow, gradient fill and eyedropper - allow me to sample the original painting’s colors. I don't claim to create a perfect copy, but something that retains the PowerPoint look while being close enough, so that the viewer will instantly recognize the reference. This is basically deconstructing the likes of Van Gogh - however complex the original painting, it's nothing more than a collection of basic shapes and colors.”
The series defies classical art as much as it does PowerPoint's technical limitations. "On a scale ranging from Windows Paint to Photoshop, PowerPoint is located somewhere near Paint. Although it is equipped with sufficient graphic tools, they are not utilized enough and it isn't perceived as legitimate graphic software,” says Mizrahi. "PowerPoint is software for creating mostly boring presentations. Using it to create a pie chart would be considered adventurous by most of us, let alone a Rembrandt or a Vermeer. I'm fascinated with using it for a purpose totally different than that for which it was intended, and to push its graphic features, which are functional as they are limited, to the limit."
So far, Mizrahi has pptified Munch's “The Scream,” Vermeer's “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” Grant Wood's “American Gothic,” Rembrandt's The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp and René Magritte's “The Son of Man.” He's currently working on Botticelli's “Birth of Venus” and Leonardo da Vinci's “Mona Lisa,” which he says is "the most obvious, but also most banal, choice for such a homage.”