Parallax, A Perceptual Short-Circuit


The Incredible Bob’s art installation Parallax consists (externally) of a pair of binoculars. Its standard function however has been revolutionized (in the true sense of the word), exploiting the optical phenomenon of parallax (if you change the point of observation an object appears in a different position with respect to the background). Thanks to the connection between two surveillance cameras and a projection system inside the installation, when a visitor looks through the binoculars, he sees himself in the act of looking through the binoculars. Moreover, thanks to a mechanism similar to the optical viewfinder mirror system of analogue cameras, the angle of parallax is reversed: what we see with the right eye is the image we see with the left eye and vice versa. The perspective obtained is certainly a weird and unsettling vision, but it is not new. Early research in this field seems to date back to 1890. The psychologist George Malcolm Stratton constructed special glasses to study visual perception that were able to alter the mechanism of retinal vision. It is perhaps too simplistic, however, to reduce Parallax to a simple optical experiment or trick. Looking through a pair of binoculars most people would expect to see the enlargement of something, or the details of something or something wonderful never before seen. Parallax uses this expectation for aesthetic purposes. And from this aesthetic it raises a question on the process of perception of the self through artistic fruition, making the relationship between these two moments more fluid. The result is a short circuit in which these moments are mixed, as if they are equal and opposite forces and it is suddenly no longer possible to distinguish the carrier. Chiara Ciociola


Incredible Bob – Parallax