Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Research Paper

Wanted to post the whole thing with images etc but would probably go over several pages and not be easy to read. Word doc here. so just put up the title/abstract.

By exploring how we perceive illusion in art installations and contemporary film, this paper will compare The Dark Pool by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller with the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, looking at the nature of the viewer’s interaction and how imagination can be manipulated.


This paper discusses firstly, a brief background of contemporary installation art, sound art and illusion in film, followed by a discussion of The Dark Pool and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the parallels between these two immersive experiences. Multiple techniques are used by both the art installation and the film in different ways to distort our sense of reality and provide us with an illusionary experience.

Both media use sound, and it is argued that this enables our imagination to enrich our encounters of the works. In the installation, the multiple layers of sound, presented as an overlapping narrative, helps us to visualise the stories presented as part of the work. In the film, the soundtrack helps to engage us emotionally and presents dual layers of reality as the plot jumps through time and across parallel storylines.

Also, both are presented with a disorganised chronology that affects our sense of ‘being in the present’ and invites the question: what is fiction or reality? The difference between them is that within the installation, as a viewer, you are free to explore the space and discover elements of the story in a self defined order, whereas the film already has the jumbled chronology decided for us.

Lastly, objects are used in The Dark Pool, some familiar to us to invoke a feeling of nostalgia for the past, combined with strange inventions only technologically possible in the present to confuse our sense of time and in Eternal objects are used in forced perspective to create a visual illusion.

Ultimately, both have a similar aim to immerse us as viewers and for a short space of time at least, present to us a different or as described by Cardiff ‘parallel’ world, free from the constraints of reality.

Key Words

Illusion, dream, installation, film, sound

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