Eidola ( an eye and the idea; how vision has helped form our perceptions and understanding of the world around us.
It’s an ambitious subject, one that dates back at least to the time of Pythagoras, as is indicated in the installation’s liner notes. He believed that we could see because the eye emits rays of light, and that these rays gave a person information about colour and shape. From this idea through Democritus to Johannes Kepler by way of Da Vinci, and with a mention of gestaltism along the way, the liner notes provide a framework for understanding the installation, including the fact it uses, as a means of both presenting ideas and navigating it, the five chapters of Ruggero Pierantoni’s 1981 book, The eye and the idea. Physiology and history of vision.
Visitors arrive at a near central arrival point, which offers significant reading – including an excerpt from Wassily Kandinsky’s ruminations on the geometrical elements which make up every painting, and the basic plane, the material surface on which the artist draws or paints. This sits alongside extracts discussing the nature of visible light and the brain’s reaction to light entering the eye.
From here, visitors are invited to make their way through six vast houses, most of which are elevated in varying manners – on the backs of great statues, atop basalt columns, up in the branches of trees. The first five houses reflect the chapters of Pierantoni’s book, and the sixth something of a conclusion. These are linked one to another by raised ladders on top of scaffolds laid out as horizontal walkways. The first of these can be reached via a short walk over the landscape, or a teleport board is available for those short of time, or returning for a further visit and wish to resume where they left off.
Each of the houses is packed with information on its specific topic: Myths of Vision; Space, Inside and Outside; Light, inside and Outside; Proportions, Symmetries and Alphabets; and Illusion and Pleasure. Some of the walkways are on a single level, some are there to be climbed in order to see the contents in a house, and one includes a teleport. Outside of the houses, the walkways offer views across the surrounding landscape. This is filled with what might at first appear to be curios watched over by gigantic humans – but they are all in some way related to the overall theme of the installation.
At the end of the elevated walkways, beyond the sixth house, is the frame of a house. Approach and enter this, and the frame is revealed at an animated work of art built in reflection of the themes from the rest of the installation: perception, perspective, line, point, and more.
Trying to quantify this installation is not easy; it is one that needs to be personally experienced. The amount of information it contains can be overwhelming if trying to take everything in during a single visit. But there is a lot of food for thought to be found in the houses for those interested in science, philosophy, psychology, history or art; therefore more than one visit might be the best order of business.
- Eidola (LEA 24, rated: Moderate)