Machines of Deception 

International Symposium of Shadows , Docklands, London 1996 

from left to right: >Zoetrope "Essenslust" >Thaumatrope "Deception" >Zoetrope "Auge" >Zoetrope "Küssen"

The phenomenon of eye-deception when watching a film accompanies us throughout the film history until today. However, with the ever improving quality we forget completely the actual deception of the eye, although this is the key to watching a movie opening the door to the illusion of a staged reality.

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Illusion of Movement. Among the first eye-deception machines, which are invented in the beginning of the 19th century, the Zoetrope is the first, which makes motion visual. The Zoetrope is invented by William George Horner in 1833 and clearly demonstrates the illusion of a perceived motion. This illusion results from the human inability to look fast enough to notice a quick logical sequence of individual pictures as what they really are: individual pictures. As soon as the rotation speed of the Zoetrope drops under a certain level the illusion is gone.

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Staged Reality. About 60 years later, the invention of the film makes it possible to show motion over a much longer timespan. This enables the film-maker to really tell the story he wants to tell, respectively to materialize his subjective notion of reality.

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The cutting of the original film and a new arrangement of its bits and pieces produces a completely new context and with that a new fictitious world. The film-maker discovers that he can easily lead the observer into an illusion of contents.

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Virtually staged Reality. The digital century has transformed the media of film into an accumulation of "Ones" and "Zeros" - thanks to Konrad Zuse. The byte, the smallest information unit, can be manipulated.

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A virtual reality can be created. Even the trained eye of an observer, who at least partially is able to notice complex traditional special effects, is now unable to discriminate the filmed subject from the one which is virtually produced. Beyond that, the terrific development speed of new computer technique will further depress production cost of virtual worlds and by that support their more and more frequent application.

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Ignorance. The observer consumes by surfing through the waves of information. A machine - whether a Video-recorder, a computer or a TV set - is operated as if it is the most natural thing in the world. Its magic hood, called "body", further increases the anonymity of the hidden technique. What happens inside is a secret science.

The credibility of the medium is evaporating. Whether watching a technically perfect movie or a documentation on TV, the observer knows that everything is possible. And it is possible that he is not only deceived by an illusion of reality but also by a virtually staged reality. And he is deceived without even knowing it, forgetting that he carries the basic reason for this deception in himself. Whether watching a Zoetrope or a virtual film, he is in the first place a victim of his own eyes.

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Consciousness. The machines of deception purely demonstrate a staged reality. They enable the observer to see for himself the actual sequence of motion. He looks at each motionless picture and recognizes that a flow of motion only builds up after a specific frequency is reached. It is this observation which makes him aware of his inability to notice the individual pictures as what they are when moving at a high speed sequence. He is deceived - but he becomes aware of it.

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Work: Apart from being involved in the fascinating analysis of the phenomenon of eye-deception my prime objective is to melt the photo-film object into a comprehensive sculpture. Its filigree mounts do not have any functional meaning but are meant to be a statical contrapoint to the kinetical "film-generating" components of the individual sculptures. Each scene represents a sequence of single takes made with a conventional camera. Flashing light and mechanical noise lead the observer into the centre of the Zoetrope to the point where the "elemental force" is unveiled to him: info-blackphase-info-blackphase.............