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Theory and Experiment

While pursuing graduate studies at Liberty University in the year 2000, N. D. Wilson first encountered the Shroud of Turin in a lecture by Dr. Gary Habermas. Using the solution patterns of G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories, Wilson attempted to work through a "paradigm shift" in the world of current theories of Shroud forgery. Such theories simultaneously fail to account for the complexity of the image and the simplicity of technique required for a forgery to be believably attributed to a medieval.

The image on the Shroud is dark on a light background. Previous theories had all attempted to explain how linen could be darkened without the use of chemicals, stains, or paints. Wilson wondered if it would be possible to lighten the already dark linen, leaving only a dark image behind.The simplest means of lightening linen, available to all men throughout time, is to bleach it with sunlight. Wilson believed that if an image of a man were painted on glass with a light shade of paint, placed over darker linen, and left beneath the sun, a dark image would be left on a light background. More importantly, he believed a dark and light inversion would take place, creating a photonegative. Wherever light paint had been used, the linen would be shaded from the sun and left dark and unbleached. Wherever the darker shade of linen had been left exposed, the sun would bleach the cloth light. In addition, it was also believed that because the sun would be exposing the linen from approximately one hundred and eighty degrees, a crude three dimensional image would be created.

Several years later he decided to test his theory, so he met with Dr. Scott Minnich, a scientist friend, for advice on structuring the experiment.

Phase I
A line-up of faces would be painted on glass with white paint, placed over linen and exposed beneath the sun for differing periods of time. Different artists and non-artists would paint the faces and various paint thicknesses would be used. The goal for this phase was to select a single painting to be used to produce several images for comparison. A window painted in less than an hour by David Beauchamp, a non-artist, was selected. It initially produced an image while aligned parallel to the sun’s path and exposed for ten days.

Phase II
The Beauchamp painting would expose two additional images. The first image would be exposed perpendicular to the sun’s path. As temperatures had dropped, and the summer was fading, it would be left exposed for fifteen days. The second image would be exposed beneath a stationary sun lamp for approximately 140 hours.

Phase III
All of the images created would be photographed in the studio of Mark Lamoreaux for comparisons of the negatives. The three-dimensionality of a faux-shroud would be compared to that of the Turin Shroud.

It was found that even a crudely painted piece of glass could produce a photonegative image three-dimensionally encoded onto linen. The images produced by the Beauchamp painting did not match the finesse of the original, but aptly demonstrated the viability of the technique.



Books and
"Father Brown Fakes the Shroud"


Read Listen

Emerging From Shadows:
A Canon Press Lecture


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