Kat Austen, CultureLab editor
One, two, three by Trope Scope
It?s that time of year again. This year?s Kinetica Artfair has opened in London to the delight of many science-minded art explorers.
The theme of illusion and reality runs strongly through many of the exhibits and performances this year, and this thread helps transform what has in the past seemed like a playground for grown-ups into something more enriching.
Angel In My Peripheral Vision by Chris Levine (see video above) plays on a quirk of our vision to produce an image just on the edge of perception. Turn your head, and you catch a glimpse of a figure, but look straight at the artwork and all you see is a human-height column of flickering green LEDs.
Playing with the phenomenon of persistence of vision is a theme in other works such as Tim Lewis?s Transformer, which uses a strobe light to animate a small man running inside a hamster wheel, and Mechanical Flipbook?s Horse in Motion, which recalls Eadweard Muybridge?s pioneering work in the field.
Taking things a step further, Trope Scope present One, two, three, a sculpture-cum-experiment that comes out of the multidisciplinary Diasynchronoscope Project at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Designed by artists Carol MacGillivray and Bruno Mathez as part of the project, the piece is used to investigate how our brains construct a continuous visual stream from discrete objects. ?Most perception experiments use screens,? says Mathez, ?but a screen is not reality. We can represent reality in a much better way by positioning the viewer within a room and playing with space and depth. We can control the experiments very precisely.?
They will be investigating apparent movement - the way that we perceive frames of a film to be a continual flow of information. Everyone consumes movies all the time, MacGillivray says, but most of us don?t really know why we see them move, or what the thresholds are to seeing movement.
One, two, three is a stunning piece of art in its own right. It combines audio-visual elements that nod to MacGillivray?s experience in animation with a sculptural element that brings the projections into the realm of the real.
Other works play with our instinctive reactions to visual stimuli. Madi Boyd has worked with psychologists and neuroscientists who look at how we first respond to visual stimuli and then try to interpret what we?re looking at.
In Fragment Cinema, she draws us in with a completely abstract light projection emerging from a prism-shaped box, but also presents us with an almost-interpretable film element projected onto the outside of the box to engage us at the second, interpretation, stage.
The video hints at a narrative that the viewer can almost, but not quite, unravel. We linger as the images flicker by looking for the next clue, the next pattern that might explain the whole.
In its fifth year, Kinetica Artfair is coming into its own. With a series of performances over the weekend and a host of other fun and interactive exhibits, it?s certainly worth a visit.
If you?re in London and in the mood for more art this weekend, Art13, an art fair for international up-and-coming artists, has some science-related treats too, including taxidermy artist Polly Morgan?s Foundations/Rename - a tower made of casts of a crow?s femur - and Catharina Van Eetvelde?s Subject of the Sun, prints that call to mind Galileo?s struggle with the Catholic church.
Kinetica Artfair runs until Sunday at Ambika P3 (opposite the London Planetarium), University of Westminster, London
Art13 runs until Sunday at Kensington Olympia, London