Exhibited in 'Participation' IRES Exhibition Falmouth Arts Centre 2007
Theme: Complicity: Medium: Peepshow (a cabinet which uses lenses and mirrors to create an intimate solitary viewing experience)
Within the Peepshow a 2D composition is exploded into a 3D space to create a miniature stage set. With the use of a lens and mirror illusions are created by playing with depth of field and reflection. A small hole is cut in the cabinet front that contains the peep show so only one person at a time can view the scene. The illusion is dependent on the viewer’s capability and willingness to participate in its construction. The imagery and narrative content of the illusions are drawn from fairytales, magic tricks, early cinema and Victoriana.
In my MA (Illustration: Authorial Practice) I explored imagery based on the idea of storytelling in the Victorian nursery and researched the origins of early cinema in the history of spectacle. I was looking for inspiration and a vehicle I could use to create an intimate liminal viewing experience which drew on theatrical notions of the ‘suspension of disbelief.’ I became interested in Peepshows in particular because the earliest models were manufactured using printed engravings I investiaged concepts of transformation, disappearance and distortion, which I related to magic tricks and music hall acts. The unifying factors of my research I see as construction, illusion, distortion, violence and eroticism. Most importantly for this exhibition, I have also been exploring the crucial role of the audience, on whose agreed participation the magic or theatre depends.
I believe that when magic acts or theatrical performances take place the audience is an essential constituent and that as individuals we are complicit in the construction of illusion. I am interested in the relationship between this form of complicity and other, possibly conflicting, ideas about voyeurism - that may relate particularly to more degraded notions of peepshows, as forms of seaside sauciness or Soho tackiness. Peepshows contain spaces we can only enter into and interact with using our minds - there is a a possible comparison with more contemporary digital concepts of virtual reality.
This particular piece was inspired by, Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link, a collection of short stories including, Stone Animals. So, a New York family move upstate. Their new home is said to be haunted, but they buy it anyway. The garden is indeed infested, with rabbits, burrowing away, steadily undermining their bright imagined future. Whether these people are the rightful inhabitants or interlopers is increasinly uncertain. Allegiances shift. Of the two children, the youngest, a boy, believes their house actually exists in a secret part of Central Park, and his older sister sleepwalks with her new furry friends. Her father, retaliates by putting the little girl back to bed in the closet. Her mother paints trees and doors on the walls. In dreams these openings reveal the house is only a shell. Beyond the paper walls of the story, other stories are also taking place.
Stone Animals, Magic for Beginners, Kelly Link - Published by Harper Perennial, 2005