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