Tuesday, 22 August 2006

acmi conjures a world of wonder and illusion

Eerie spectres, ghostly apparitions and tricks of the mind will scare, thrill and delight as the Australian Centre for the Moving Image brings the dark, shadowy world of optical wonders from the Hayward Gallery in London to you in its latest major exhibition, Eyes, Lies and Illusions opening on 2 November.
Venture down into ACMI's basement on a voyage of discovery where perception is not reality, seeing is not believing and everything is not what it seems. Journey through light and shadows as strange effects and weird devices combine for a head-spinning interactive experience. Explore the visual puzzles and strange devices - some dating back to the 1600s - that captured movement hundreds of years before the invention of film as well as works by contemporary artists which probe our continued fascination with optical phenomena.
Popular in the Victorian era (when entertainment involved 'spectacles' of paranormal events such as hypnotism, communication with the dead, and ghost conjuring) the objects in Eyes, Lies and Illusions could be found in parlours, sideshows and carnivals alongside menageries, freakshows and oddities such as the Elephant Man and Fiji Mermaid which delighted crowds and participants.
Visitors to the exhibition can watch in wonder as a strange array of apparitions from ghouls to drumming skeletons appear out of the inky darkness before their very eyes. Visitors can multiply their reflection in 'Witch' mirrors, enter a camera obscura and marvel at the illusion of the world turned upside down, and can come and play in the famous 'Ames Room', where perceptions are distorted creating an astonishing shrinking and enlarging illusion.

Eyes, Lies and Illusions is arranged around seven main themes: Shadowplay, features the magic lantern, precursor of the cinema; Tricks of the Light, will distort multiply reflections in 'witch' mirrors; Riddles of Perspective, a walk-in room, which can shrink and enlarge objects inside through trick perspective; Enhancing the Eye, a highlight of which is the giant lens from Britain's first public 'camera obscura'; Deceiving the Mind, includes hidden images, visual puzzles and optical riddles in a huge variety of forms; Moving in Time, explores the ingenious means employed to capture motion in an image, hundreds of years before the invention of film and Persistence of Vision, filled with zoetropes, praxinoscopes, phenakitascopes, and thaumatropes.
Alongside these fascinating antiquities, the contemporary works show how optical phenomena continue to fascinate artists. Among the highlights are Christian Boltanski's shadow-theatres of angels and devils eerily haunting the galleries; Eness' hundreds of suspended eyeballs, that create a disconcerting illusion of being watched as you walk around the room; Anthony McCall's now-legendary Line Describing a Cone, a seemingly 'solid' beam of light created from a projected white spot that slowly grows into a complete circle filled with smoke; Alfons Schilling's viewing devices made from prisms and mirrors present an inside-out, back-to-front illusion where solids appear void, left switches to right and foreground becomes background.

Developed by the Hayward Gallery in London, the exhibition centres on one of the most remarkable collections of pre-cinematic optical inventions and illusions in the world, that of the German experimental filmmaker Werner Nekes.

In addition to the exhibition, ACMI will also present an Eyes, Lies and Illusions cinema season and a series of talks, performances and public programs.

Exhibition details:
Eyes, Lies and Illusions
2 November 2006 - 11 February 2007
Full $12, Concession $8, Family $30 (2 adults, 2 children under 16, additional children $4)
ACMI Screen Gallery,
Open daily 10am-6pm

Further information

Claire Butler
Communications Coordinator
[direct phone] 61 3 8663 2415 [fax] 61 3 8663 2498 [mobile] 0434 603 654
[email] claire.butler@acmi.net.au  
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