Installation, 2011

Adrien M / Claire B (FR)

Forms float in an aquarium. They are made from letters, but their movements suggest that they are actually small creatures, like bees trapped in a bottle. They start moving when people blow on them, and their hustle and bustle poetically mixes semantics of language and motion. The installation uses the Pepper’s ghost principle, a classic illusionary technique from the 19th century which enables objects to float in midair, disappear, become transparent, or morph into something completely different. It is based on a trick of light, the optical properties of glass, and the tendency of the human brain to believe that some images it sees are three-dimensional when they are, in fact, flat on a screen.

Glass, while transparent, serves as a partial mirror, reflecting back some of the light that hits it. This is why we can see ourselves in the window of a darkened shop-front. In the Pepper’s ghost illusion, a piece of glass is angled forty-five degrees from a brightly lit object set in a darkened area. Care is taken to ensure the angle is just right, and that the viewer cannot see the object itself, just its reflection in the glass. Because people are accustomed to light travelling in straight lines and because glass is transparent, the brain assumes that the object is behind the glass instead of being a reflection, resulting in a ghostly apparition.

Artist's Statement

Typographic Organism is an installation first made for the XYZT, Les paysages abstraits exhibition. It is made as an interactive and immersive walk into a digital and lush territory, where touching algorithms or feeling the matter of light become possible. With this installation, the illusion of letters floating in the air is created through old magic techniques associated with new technologies.