Installation views from Maximum Exposure 2014, at the School of Image Arts
Penrose Triangle Illustration, courtesy of Tobias R
Rifts, Rhythms & Congruence
“We are so familiar with seeing, that it takes a leap of imagination to realize that there are problems to be solved. But consider it. We are given tiny distorted upside-down images in the eyes, and we see separate solid objects in surrounding space. From the patterns of stimulation on the retina we perceive the world of objects and this is nothing short of a miracle.” – Richard L. Gregory, Eye and Brain
Rifts, Rhythms & Congruence is an installation constructed from 16mm film loops that explores notions of human visual perception. Upon entering the installation space, the loops form an optical illusion, converging to create a variation of the Penrose triangle, an impossible object popularized in the 1950s. The Penrose triangle has been described as “impossibility in its purest form” and like many illusions, has an important history in the development of our modern understanding of sight. The tribar object it creates appears to be a solid object, made of three straight beams, which meet pair-wise at the vertices of the triangle they form. This combination of properties cannot be realized by any three dimensional object in ordinary Euclidian space.
Impossible objects demonstrate how our visual system instantly and subconsciously interprets certain shapes as a projection of a three-dimensional object rather than its actual
2-D rendering. This illusion plays off the idea of the Penrose triangle through the use of forced perspective. The positioning of loops and objects in the installation is designed in relationship to the viewer’s entry point to the space and thus makes them appear different than their true nature. As viewers move further into the installation the illusion dissipates and breaks down into three distinct loops.
In Rifts, Rhythms & Congruence these loops are perpetually in motion and migrate from each vertex of the triangle to another. A single projector generates the movement for each loop, and as the film passes through the device, it controls the light projected from it. The film consists solely of black or clear leader—an analogue equivalent of binary code—which either blocks or permits light to pass through it. As there is no other light in the space, the film loops simultaneously become the observed and observer. The sculpture can only be witnessed when it reveals itself. This is similar to the mechanics of vision in the brain, which involve feedback loops and self-influencing processes. As the film moves through the projector, brief segments of clear leader allows for light to illuminate the space. The flashes and rhythms that occur between the three projectors form a composition that is intended to be reminiscent of neurons firing in the brain.