Have you ever been disoriented by an optical effect? You know the moment: the boundaries between reality and fantasy collapse on one another and make you lose your bearings for a minute, feeling as if you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole or some space-time vortex.
Artist Philippe Blanchard is exploiting this sensation in a new installation coming to Arprim in Montréal called New Troglodytes. It’s essentially a psychedelic cave environment where the viewer is submerged in space by geometric stalactites and stalagmites that Blanchard has screenprinted in red, green and blue. This RGB color code is then augmented with LED strobe lights that change the colors and patterns of the room—a technique we’ve seen exploited before to create optical illusions.
This lighting system is as effective as a psychotropic substance. The alternating red, green and blue flashes will literally carry you into a confusing and hypnotic world. Epileptics should be warned: this audiovisual installation is destabilizing. To accentuate the trick being played on your senses, parts of the wall and the floor are intentionally left blank, a necessary visual contrast that gives some respite to your eye from the visual intensity.
Through this animated installation, Philippe Blanchard touches on the primordial symbolism of caves and fire. These combined elements are ancestral forms of visual technologies and are a subtle reminder of the beginnings of animation.
Images Courtesy of Philippe Blanchard
Philippe Blanchard’s New Troglodytes is on till March 2, Arprim, 372 Ste-Catherine West, Montréal.