The Trompe-l’œil (French for “deceive the eye”) has an long history in the visual arts, and it is not at all surprising that contemporary tools and workflows could make novel contributions to an age-old technique for image wizardry. A collaboration between Montreal-based Matthew Biederman and Berlin’s Pierce Warnecke for the .move On festival at Werkleitz (Halle, Germany), Perspection is a multi-screened audiovisual installation that combines anamorphic imagery and spatialized audio to induce perspective-warping optical (and aural) illusions for its viewers.
Anamorphic images are distorted in order to appear three-dimensional or ‘correct’ from certain vantage points, so the TouchDesigner-generated animations playing on Perspection’s three projection surfaces are tuned to the dimensions of the space and compose seamless images across the displays at specific viewing angles. Bands of oscillating and out of phase vertical stripes, dense arrays of Necker Cubes, pulsating colour fields—each vignette’s machinations are accompanied by synchronized shrill tones and piercing waves of static. Beyond using MaxMSP to generate its audio, the installation also uses a Max patch-driven Kinect to 3D track a viewer’s position, to adjust the perspective of the animations and audio (via directional speakers) making the piece responsive and tied to location.
↑ From one angle: a composite image, from another: three distinct projection surfaces – Perspection is a spatial puzzle
While the project’s staging at Werkleitz had three projection surfaces, Biederman and Pierce see Perspection as reconfigurable; the number of projections, loudspeakers and their orientation are all variable in future installations—depending on the space available. Over email, Biederman reveals he thinks the work represents a step forward within the Trompe-l’œil tradition.“There are a lot of these anamorphosis pieces out there … and the big thing is that they only work for one person at a time, and create this kind of traffic jam.” While the duo had no desire to create a highly interactive work, some earnest experiments into a ‘viewpoint that adjusted to the viewer’ yielded impressive results. “It was a really effective tool, I mean even for taller or shorter people who might not be able to see the perfect anamorphosis—we solved it by using a Kinect and doing some programming.”