A few weeks ago I had a presentation moment at FLACC in Genk where DIORAMATIZED #01 was shown to the public for the first time.
What I concentrated on in this first exploration, was trying to impose perspectival limitations on the different layers of the projection. For this purpose I used the technique of anamorphosis.
Anamorphosis is an optical curiosity (Baltrušaitis, 1977), and a very interesting one because of its interfering with the laws of perspective and at the same time explicitating these laws of perspective.
As Dan Collins points out in his article ‘Anamorphosis and the Eccentric Observer’:
The process known as anamorphosis or anamorphic projection in art is at once a confirmation and a challenge to the rules of linear perspective and the conventions of representation. (Dan Collins, 1992)
Anamorphosis enforces a certain perspective upon the observer, and does this in a non-transparant way by at the same time showing the illusion of that perspective. An anomaly that coincides completely with what Bolter & Grusin define as a core characteristic of ‘Remediation’: “the double logic of immediacy and hypermediacy”. (Bolter & Grusin, 1999).
‘The Ambassadors’ of Hans Holbein 1533 (National Gallery, London) probably contains the best known example of anamorphosis. The viewing angle of the observer is the key to ‘decoding’ the distorted image in the foreground as being the representation of a skull. This is an example of a perspectival or optical anamorphosis where no extra viewing device is necessary.
A second main type of anamorphoses are catoptrical anamorphoses where special mirrors – cylinders, cones, pyramids, prisms – are used to reconstruct the distorted image. (Thomas Weynants, 2003). In cylindrical anamorphoses a mirror in the form of a cylinder has to be used in order to view a reconstruction of the distorted image.
Nicéron’s well-known anamorphic drawing of St Francis of Paola (Nicéron, 1652), visually explains the principle of deformation in cylindrical anamorphosis.
And it is exactly the possibilities of cylindrical anamorphosis that I focussed on in this first design exploration DIORAMATIZED #01.
Each musician is filmed individually from top to toe against a black background. The videofootage is being warped and displayed on different screens – i.e. layers in this first experiment. In the middle of each warped image is a cylindrical mirror. Only by looking at the mirror from the correct vantagepoint you will see the original recording dewarped.
The idea is to explore (in the future) whether the same is possible for sound: to have each polyphonic layer come out as individually as possible. In the set up of DIORAMATIZED #01 I had this already in a limited way by using a surround installation. For each of the 5 visual layers, you get the corresponding sound, and the ‘listening’ angle coincides exactly with the angle of perception for the visual anamorphosis.
What struck me in how people explore the installation is the impact of the interaction between sound and vision. The best – traditionally speaking – surround mix is perceived exactly in the middle of the installation. For the visual part on the other hand there is no ideal position to get a combined visual overview, and the search for good visual perspectives drives you away from the centrepoint of the installation.
As observer – an active viewer/listener – you make your own choice between these two opposing forces. And when exploring the audiovisual installation, you construct, in interaction with the audiovisual form your own perspective on the music performed.