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A Simple Illusion Taps Into Something Deep

A Simple Illusion Taps Into Something Deep

Sometimes, the simplest principles carry the biggest impact. Yiyun Kang’s Between series achieves a simple yet powerful effect by projecting moving images onto blank screens. Video clips depicting human forms writhing behind a stretchy fabric pulled taut over a frame are projected onto white screens that are strewn haphazardly around the pitch-black exhibition space. The illusion happens because the projected images exactly match the dimensions of the screens, thus convincing the eye that there is one writhing and struggling human being behind each screen.

The very nature of these human form’s movements are provocative, in that they seem to be calling out to the viewer with all their twisting and turning—something about it looks desperate, helpless and claustrophobic. The gesticulation eventually does get to the viewer, who responds by stepping up to the screen, if only just to double-check that it is indeed a projection.

But what is it about these austere white silhouettes that reaches out and touches something deep and private inside us? The simplicity of the concept, aesthetic and technology somehow all work together to produce a quiet, emotional confrontation that puzzles us—it’s like having a spotlight shone on an inner part of ourselves that makes us ever so slightly uncomfortable…