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How do our eyes relate to projection mapping and light art?

produced by: David Upton

This installation ended up by subverting some of the assumptions of projection mapping. 

It starts off quite dark, affected by light spilling over from neighbouring installations; but as the light levels gradually increase the viewer becomes aware that something is actually going on. I wanted this to be unclear and sinister at the start. Flashing designs are made using very similar colours: I am fascinated by the limits of of our eyes ability to distinguish between close hues. (As the video shows, the camera is even worse than the human eye at this.) Images of a closed eye grdually become more visible, though it takes a while to realise what this is.

Secondly, rather than the viewer watching the cubes, it is as if the cubes start to watch the viewer, as the eyes pop open, move around, and close. These are still images of my eyes, looking in various directions, and are selected at random. 

A kind of 'ballet of eyes' follows.  To humans, the eyes are such an essential means of emotional and social communication that we automatically and rapidly notice and interpret their movements, glances, sequence and timing.  They appear to look at each other, then away, and so on. Are they 'responding' to each other? It is difficult not to read human intention or meaning into what is actually a completely generative process with no 'pattern' behind it.

I wanted also to produce a more organic result, rather than relying entirely on mathematically generated abstract shapes, in order to develop a different relationship with the viewer. Had the eyes been purely geometric shapes the associations, pseudo-narrative, and social signals they generate would have been much less obvious.

Eventually two big eyes come to dominate the projection. One is projected on the right facing squares, the other on the left facing squares. The screens are now very bright and busy in stark contrast to their cautious beginning. The smaller eyes look around trying to make sense of it all and are then replaced for a while by a jagged series of flashing lines which dart between the large eyes. (Migraine sufferers may recognise the prodromal symptom called scintillating scotoma.) These cease, and then the display ends.