On the Validity of Illusion (and its attractions) – video, 2014
A spiritual teacher is evoked via the internet by a contemporary artist. The artist watches the teacher over several shifting monitors while simultaneously running aesthetic tests. These tests include the presentation of constructed objects, books, painted surfaces, coloured substances and the staging of scenarios – all through a system of reflective surfaces. During the course of the video, a mimetic process involving eye contact takes place. Some of the objects presented take on the functions of listening, looking, experiencing and speaking, eventually becoming interchangeable with the artist. Others function as instruments that chart and probe this mysteriously exhibited subjectivity.
The mediating reflective surfaces through which almost everything appears in the video are manipulated for the purposeful construction of illusion. The effects are created performatively and rendered through the co-ordinating ‘now’ of the camera lens as opposed to belatedly in post production.
Driven by a fascination that is fuelled by disbelief and a relentless sense of play, On the Validity of Illusion recalls the methodology of trompe l’oeil, that tricks for the purpose of revealing that one has been tricked thus creating an epiphany of sorts. This type of epiphany, (facilitated through the prizing apart of belief and knowledge) underlies my interest in western mystical and esoteric practice and thought, its intertwinement with the history of the sciences and philosophical discourse and its relation to personal and collective identity.