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Published: Saturday, 3/26/2005

Artist uses pixels as his canvas for animated cross

The digital  painting  shifts and changes subtly. The digital painting shifts and changes subtly.
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Technology and art have always been intertwined, with scientific advances offering creative people ever-widening avenues of expression.

One of the more interesting uses of new technology is a one-hour DVD video titled The Cross: The Last Hour of Christ, just released by DigiArt LLC of Studio City, Calif.

Well, it's not exactly a video, at least not in the usual sense of the word. It's more like a painting than a movie, but the painting shifts and changes subtly.

Creator Paul Aratow calls it "an animated digital portrayal."

Pop the disc into a DVD player or in a computer and The Cross will show a vivid portrait of Jesus on the cross, head hanging low, clouds drifting slowly across the sky. Sounds of thunder rumble in the distance. The sky slowly gets darker.

Suddenly, the digital image of Jesus moves slightly. Jesus raises his head, and appears to looks directly at the viewer.

The animated painting is so different that it's a little hard to grasp at first. But Mr. Aratow is convinced that digital artwork will eventually

become commonplace.

I believe that digital art for electronic screens is the future,

he said in an interview this week.

As screens get larger, thinner, and cheaper, you won t have

college students hanging posters on their walls. They ll hang electronic art instead. I don t know if it s going to happen in fi ve years

or a hundred years, but I m sure it s going to happen.

Unlike Mel Gibson s depiction of Jesus last hours in The Passion of

The Christ, Mr. Aratow and his collaborators chose to portray the crucified Christ with very little blood.

It is not supposed to be photo real, this is painterly real, he said.

We did not want to get in to the macabre. We wanted people to be

comfortable with it so they can let it live on their television screen.

Mr. Aratow said he spent several years working on the project,

with artwork created by Cy Bowers, using 87,000 images.

The Cross: The Last Hour of Christ, priced at $22.95 plus

shipping and handling, for now is available only from DigiArt by

phone, 1-877-344-4278 or online at www.thechristposter.com.

How did a Jewish prophet come to be seen as the Christian

savior?

That pivotal question is examined thoughtfully and objectively

by reporter Jon Meacham in Newsweek s March 28 cover story.

As most Christians prepare to celebrate Easter tomorrow (Orthodox

Christians observe Easter on May 1), the foundational beliefs

of Christianity including Jesus resurrection can easily be taken as seamless and monumental, unchanging from age to age, Mr. Meacham writes.

But it was not always so.

In the fi rst centuries of the first millennium, skepticism about Jesus

resurrection was widespread, from the historian Josephus who

considered Jesus a wise man but not the Messiah (he called

him the so-called Christ ), to the Gnostics who believed that Jesus

was more divine than human and lacked a material, fl eshly body.

Even Jesus disciples were mystified by the resurrection, Mr. Meacham points out, citing several Scriptures.

Jews, meanwhile, were not expecting a humble Messiah, but

rather someone who combined the traits of courage, piety, military

prowess, justice, wisdom, and knowledge of the Torah, according

to Boston University professor Paula Fredriksen.

Despite the uniqueness and implausibility of the resurrection,

as Mr. Meacham puts it, the historical evidence and theological

arguments led to the rapid spread of Christianity, which in

40 A.D. had about 1,000 adherents or 0.0017 percent of the

Roman Empire and within 300 years had 34 million followers, or

56.5 percent of the population.

And this despite the threat of persecution, torture, and death

under Roman rule, particularly Nero, under whose rule Christians

were crucifi ed and set on fi re so that when darkness came they

burned like torches in the night, according to Tacitus.

Today, there are 2 billion Christians comprising a third

of the global population, making it the world s largest faith.

And while theological and historical debates will go on forever,

the controversy over the resurrection has been settled in the minds

and hearts of an overwhelming majority of Americans. According

to the Newsweek article, the magazine s latest poll shows that

78 percent of Americans believe Jesus rose from the dead.

The Walt Disney Co. is planning on a Dec. 9 release of The

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The $100 million movie will use live action and computergenerated

animation to tell the famous Christian allegory by C.S. Lewis.

Since seven-part series was published in the 1950s, more

than 85 million Narnia books have been sold.



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