The Secret of the Gondola
In this debut work of fiction, an art-historical investigation quickly becomes detective work. On a pilgrimage to study a masterpiece by Canaletto, a young American graduate student uses his camera phone to solve a centuries-old mystery, thanks to clues left by the painter employing a mobile device of his time—the camera obscura. With the action taking place over a single day, art and technology, as well as ambition, romance, and a brutal crime intersect in a series of step-by-step revelations culminating in a startling deus ex machina at the end.
“Surveying the scene from the Dogana, Canaletto seems to have stumbled upon a murder taking place before him and put it in his painting. To decipher the episode depicted in the Bacino, Jeremy exploited several functions of his smartphone. The informational apps provided the context for the murder, while the camera captured its image in the painting. Jeremy wondered whether Canaletto had not also viewed the event through the portable camera of his day—the camera obscura, used as an aid to drawing outdoors. … Jeremy could just imagine how Canaletto, breathless with excitement, had quickly sketched the momentary image projected on the screen.”
David Alan Brown