Sight and the Media of Impression: one of five essays by Marc Weidenbaum for a new artists’ book by Paolo Salvagione. Marc Weidenbaum can be found at disquiet.com
As the future slides into focus, as we come to nearly inhabit it and
to think of it as something increasingly proximate to the present, it
retains nonetheless a lingering hint of the future-ness of times past.
This isn’t instant nostalgia. Quite the contrary, it’s the truest form
of future shock, the one that marvels at just how familiar everything
is, despite all the buildup.
We are still making good on the promises of our futurist past. At an
emotional level, the scenario resembles how we might try to please
our parents and our grandparents long after they have passed away.
At a functional level, it involves aesthetic approaches and illusory goals
that persist even as technology purportedly evolves.
From surround-sound home stereo systems to the holodecks of starships
galaxies away, from Alexander Pope’s garden to Las Vegas
simulacra, from the blue-and-red glasses at a long-ago monster
matinee to the headache-inducing multiplex spectacles of our current
moment, the media of immersion has been and remains a tantalizing
So, what if that anticipatory energy were focused on delicate objects?
What if the power of three-dimensional illusions were brought to bear
not on the fantastic but on the ordinary?
By embracing the most fundamental of three-dimensional apparitions,
the curious figments in the “sight” drawer of the One for Each
Wunderkammer rest in the hand like trinkets plucked from a parallel
universe, one just a few pixels differentiated from our own. They present
themselves as prototypes—working prototypes, judging by the slight
jiggle that results from the gentle tilting of paper or the eyes momentarily
adjusting their viewing angle.
The figments are distinguished by modest dimensions, by impenetrable
functionality, and by the retained documentary nomenclature and
production markings. They hover on the page. That hovering is essential.
While so much of three-dimensional creation asks the viewer to forget
the medium on which it is projected, these slights of hand use the
printed page as their foil. They suggest that if you look long enough they
will be adjusted by self-propelled wrenches and levitating screwdrivers.
These are illusions whose implicit power—whose ability to engage and
delight—resides in their appearance as blueprints of illusions.