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chris barker

image of stand here
Stand Here (2006), (rendered view)
Stand Here (2006)
dual Anamorphic projection

While the Renaissance mastered the scientific art of linear perspective, the Baroque age of the seventeenth-century was synonymous with many forms of visual trickery. The mathematical precision of perspective was employed to more overtly illusionistic ends. The Baroque's 'curious perspectives' (named after the French monk and scholar, Jean François Nicéron, who wrote one of the first treatises on anamorphosis, La perspective curieuse, in 1638) revelled in virtuoso feats of illusionism; they blended perspective with architecture, sculpture and painting, producing trompe l'oeil (trick of the eye) art that confused the tactile with the visual as well as different types of anamorphic distortion.

The term 'anamorphosis' comes from the Greek: ana (to change) and morphe (to shape or form). As an artistic practice, the anamorphic technique refers to a mathematically distorted figure or representation that only reveals its 'secrets' when the viewer shifts from a frontal to an oblique angle. Alternately, the use of a mirror or faceted lens can be used to correct the illusion. These 'doubled' images were rife during the Baroque (with many artists using the anamorphic technique to hide contentious religious, political or sexual content). Anamorphic forms can be optical (linear or geometric), catoptric (incorporating reflective cones, prisms or cylinders), and dioptric (using a faceted lens or mirror).

For Stand Here, Chris Barker re-visits the Baroque's delight in visual intrigue as well as its love of grand-scale architectural illusions. Stand Here is an ambient projector-based artwork that Barker has generated from current trends in three-dimensional computer graphics and photogrammetric research. The architecture of the gallery space is seamlessly blended into three interlinked animation components, creating a virtual animation occurring in our real space and time. Like historic anamorphoses, Stand Here relies upon the mobile position of its viewer to achieve its overall effect.

Traversing the space that surrounds Stand Here, you will find that its anamorphic effect will suddenly 'spring' into place at an oblique angle to the work (aha!) but collapse again at different angles. By updating anamorphic techniques in digital terms, Barker seeks to create 'new ways of seeing' that draw the viewer into an intensely physical relationship with his work. Stand Here contests the usual importance given to linear perspective; by focusing on anamorphosis, it articulates other traditions of perspective that have also contributed to artistic innovation.

Saige Walton, ACMI
October 2006

Chris Barker is an artist and filmmaker, who lectures in Animation and Computer Graphics at the Queensland University of Technology. He has been a Researcher for the Australasian CRC for Interaction Design (ACID) in Indigenous 3D gaming and dynamic content production.

Artist acknowledgements: Joe Bryant, collaboration and photogrammertry, Professor Brad Haseman & Dr Jillian Clare, institutional support, Australasian CRC for Interaction Design, equipment and support, Deb Polson & Newish Media.

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