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Ignis Fatuus

“Focusing isn't just an optical activity, it is also a mental one.” – Bridget Riley

produced by: Alexandra Pfammatter

Concept and Inspiration

Ignis Fatuus is a work which reflects on the nature of optical illusions. I used known static visuals like the Café wall illusion and translated them into moving pieces. The goal was to recreate the deceptive nature of these pictures within an 3D environment, using only flat projections. The idea for this concept comes from my fascination with deceptive visuals. I think that presenting and then dissolving illusions a great way to surprise and confront a viewer with the inadequacy of our perception. “It’s really important to understand we’re not seeing reality,” says neuroscientist Patrick Cavanagh, a research professor at Dartmouth College and a senior fellow at Glendon College in Canada. “We’re seeing a story that’s being created for us.”

The project is very much inspired by the Op Art movement, which is building on these theories. Special mention should be made of Artists like Bridged Riley who has mastered and pushed the art of the optical illusions to an extend that viewers would experience feelings of nausea. Op Art has its origins not only in painting but also kinetic sculptures. For that reason I found it especially interesting to translate these ideas into an three dimensional space, but with a different approach.

Bridget Riley, Fall (1963) 



The work consists of three costume OpenFrameworks sources which are brought together through the ofxPiMapper addon, using a ofxJason file to time the duration of each segment.

To say is that all designs are non repetitive. They have an beginning and an end which allows for an narrative-like structure.

Evaluation an Further Development

All in all I think that I could achieve some first steps into the field of visually deceptive art. The designs work well enough to get the idea of an optical illusion across. During the creation process I struggled most with the transition from the screen into the physical world. A next step would therefore be to put a lot more thought and trying into designs that play with the space and cleverly visually disrupt and reverse it. I am quite pleased with the visual build-up of the project. I think the effect of having a non illuminated, almost invisible box which becomes more accentuated as the piece advances is working quite well. I assume that projecting onto real life objects instead of “sterile” boxes could intensify the effect of the work. To temper with the structure of well-known day to day structures would lead to an even more alienating experience for the viewer.


Lorenzo Pereira: The Significance of the Op Art Movement []

Brian Resnick: “Reality” is constructed by your brain. Here’s what that means, and why it matters. []