2016 Art-Tech Designers

The Science of Consciousness Conference

APRIL 25-30,2016 TUCSON





Christchurch - NZ

Dappled Grey: An Illusion Based Artwork that Questions the Nature of Looking




This artwork, 'The Dappled Grey,' utilises an illusion to explore the nature of looking. The experience of looking at the work creates artefacts in the conscious experience that, on close inspection, seem to have no presence or existence at the source (the work). This leads the art viewer to experience a discrepancy between what is consciously perceived and what is offered by reality, or thought to be offered. It is hoped that this challenges the art viewer to consider their own conscious experience and speculate about the nature of reality and what they might know about it, if anything. It is also hoped that art viewers may engage in dialogue about what is happening in the work, and share stories brought to mind by the conundrum that the illusion presents. This artwork is influenced by my sympathies with a new mysterianism perspective. I know a great deal about conscious experiences, I have them all the time. Yet, I know nothing about non-conscious reality, which, as far as I can tell, is inaccessible to me; even if I look at a neuron through a microscope, or the stars through a telescope I only ever witness conscious experiences, the actual reality beyond, if it exists at all, eludes me. This line of thinking offers the possibility that, 'the hard problem,' does not lie with consciousness, but with reality. In which case we may find ourselves with, the easy problem of consciousness and the hard problem of reality. To create the work I started with a standard optical illusion that is often used in talks about consciousness and worked with the idea of transposing the grid like effect onto a familiar object. Working with one of the requirements, a dark background, the idea of a black horse materialised. I began working with a found photograph and started to overlay a grid onto the horse. I then pushed the photograph into a silhouette. This enhanced the mechanics and robustness of the illusion and allowed me to further experiment with the parameters of the grid. To improve, 'the look,' of the grid I changed angles and positions of lines, and added colour. This presented the risk of the illusion collapsing. But I found that it was possible to deviate from the strict symmetrical nature of the standard grid and still maintain a robust illusion. I found that animating the image gave life to the work, and encouraged the art viewer's gaze to move through the scene, which further enhanced the illusion of flickering grey dots. The title, 'The Dappled Grey,' gives a nod to the gray matter of our brain and offers contradiction, the horse is black, yet the illusion offers elements of dapple grey. Historically, art has included illusion, the concepts behind this work invite the art viewer to go further and consider philosophical notions. The viewer is being nudged, for a short time at least, to become a philosopher.