T H E  R E A L I T Y  E F F E C T

Thy hurry occasions thy mistake. That window, that vast horizon, those thick clouds, that raging sea are all but a picture.

From one astonishment I fell into another; my eyes were still deceived and my hand could hardly convince me that a picture could have caused such an illusion

We live in a society completely saturated by the image, the representation, the copy; where people look to divine answers from the palm of their hand and Google is an oracle. This saturation is so much so that the image slips surreptitiously into our everyday experiences undetected, entwining itself with our perception of the very essence of reality.






This phenomenon however, its not exclusive to the digital age. As above quote from 1843 infers, the image (be it hand generated or mechanical, analogue or digital) has often been the interface through which we have desired to experience and thereby understand the world. Throughout history, it has been the device used by mankind to fulfil a desire to make the world miniature, enclosed and crystalline – serving as a portal to other worlds and other times – the fantasy of vicarious, remote experience.

Unlike the whirring, ticking mechanical rumblings of the technologies that came before, the apparatus of the contemporary age are designed to faithfully and seamlessly simulate our everyday experiences undetected; slick devices that defy their humble physical trappings by somehow containing infinite capabilities. They have no explicit mechanisms, just fluid digital activity, silent, odourless, covert; functions that appropriate points of reference aped from ‘real life’. For example, we click and drag to ‘toss’ unwanted items into a ‘waste paper basket’, replete with a gentle thud as the ‘paper’ makes contact with the bottom of the basket in recognition of our action.

The same limited repertoire of actions, the click of a mouse, the dragging motion of our finger on the track pad, have multiple and infinitely variable consequences. As a result, there is a discrepancy and loss of understanding between our action and what actually happens. These devices encourage us to touch but not feel, operating on the basis of the echo of action. What happens becomes an imagined fantastical process, pieced together by fragments of remembered sequences of cause and effect; a leap of logic between ‘before’ and ‘after’.

Understanding through sight alone is intensified; ‘action’ is only ever imagined and seeing is perceived as something that happens independently of the body. In this space, we attempt to bridge the gaps, collating fact and the fantastical, furnishing the unknown.

                                         T H E  W O R L D  I S  F L A T  A G A I N

                                                                                                        A  R E T U R N  T O  T H E  P R E –  M O D E R N

Not only does this sense of dislocation have a profound effect on the way in which we interact with these devices, it also shapes and governs the ways in which we digest the information they relay to us. This homogenising effect of the screen perpetuates the illusion that one can access events/information from all spheres of reality simultaneously – a mirage of the worlds accessibility in all its dimensions. Everyday the world is churned up and re-presented to us in every changing configurations; the Internet has become a portal where ideas of here and there become seamlessly entwined. This relayed world is not linear, we can return again and again to an image or disregard others completely; the space and time it occupies is akin to magic – it does not adhere to the laws of the material world. We take in one image after another, creating temporal relationships between them through their chance juxtaposition. This flattening out that occurs between fact and fiction, before and after, past, present and ambition for the future, denies one explicit author/creator; our vision becomes the author. As such, our gaze is generative of a new kind of framework, a liminal space that is at once everywhere and nowhere.

In an attempt to make things truer to reality, to make the world more accessible, we are in fact further distancing ourselves from it. Technology has become so transparent as to be obscuring; a thin veil of image layer blots out what is real and through its gauze the real converges with the synthesised and the manipulated. What were supposed to be maps have turned into screens.


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