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The Trap

"The Trap" (1998) is an installation using stroboscopic lights by Gregory Barsamian.

The Trap

Gregory Barsamian: The Trap

The installation uses stroboscopic lights to animate static objects which seem to come to life like in a pre-cinematic apparatus. The title of this work was suggested by the double meaning of the German word "Die Falle" (The Trap), meaning "bed" in slang. A small body spills out of the head of a sleeping man (with the artist's face). As it rises, the body transforms into a round and square tire. By the time it returns to the form of a body again, it has climbed to a new height, and finally jumps into a bed shaped like a mousetrap.

The liquid image of the character brings to mind the detailed shape of Rodin's "Gates of Hell" and contrasts a "disarrayed irrational dream" with "the pleasures of slumber," alluding to the conflict between the mind and the body.

 

Description from Machine Times

My work of the last ten years allows the ever changing contours of sculpture to exist in time. I sculpt the materials but then I flash them before the eye at the hypnotic rate of thirteen sculptures per second. The effect is compelling ... cinematic ... surreal. As a special effect it is similar to the perceptual tricks in painting and cinema.

I use animation to bring these fabricated images to life. In a darkened room I present sequentially formed sculptures on a rapidly spinning armature. A synchronized strobe light supplies the illumination. The images exist in real-time and viewers are able to share the same space with them. The conflict between sensory information and logic recreates the state of dream reality. The scientific basis for the virtual illusion is called the persistence of vision. In this process a series of gestalts is knit into a coherent (or incoherent) whole. Our minds have an overwhelming desire for order. We create the order. What I find fascinating is the nature of that order. It defines us. Just as the viewer's visual cortex completes the illusion, so the viewer's mind completes the sculpture through personal interpretation.

The title of Die Falle (The Trap) was suggested by the double meaning of the German word "Falle" which means both trap and bed. A small body spills out of the head of a sleeping man (this is the artist's face). As it rises, the body transforms into a round tire, then into a square tire. By the time it returns to the form of a body again, it has climbed to a new height, and finally jumps into a bed that is shaped like a mousetrap. The liquid image of the character brings to mind the detailed shape of Rodin's "Gates of Hell" and contrasts a "disarrayed irrational dream" with "the pleasures of slumber," alluding to the conflict between the mind and the body.

 

Artist statement

Time is on my side..... with time there is change. With change there is chance... a vast sea of interconnections become possible. The freezing of time is an abstraction., a convention for the sake of simplification. It removes us further from the flow of change around us .... through us ... on top of us. The most important decision in my career was to enter the realm of time. Sculpture, more than two dimensional art, involves time.... the act of viewing actually creates a vast array of contours. This is evidenced in the difficulty that computers have identifying objects. ... a simple change of perspective creates an entirely different contour. In the two dimensional screen in our heads, shapes change wildly as we move about. Only our sophisticated filtering mechanisms allow us to create continuity out of the data stream. It's interesting,.... it's why I love sculpture..... but experience is made up of so much more. Largely this is because we exist in time. With time the flow of information rises exponentially.

I am drawn to this expanded flow. Painters focus their attention on a single tableau and film makers create images flashed before the eye at the astonishing rate of 24 per second. I fall somewhere in between. My work of the last ten years allows the ever changing contours of sculpture to exist in time. You could call it a narrative. It is sculpture....I sculpt the materials but then I flash them before the eye at the hypnotic rate of 13 sculptures per second. The effect is compelling... cinematic ... surreal. As a special effect it is similar to the perceptual tricks in painting and cinema. I like to think of it as my palate.

This palate is a tool.... a multifaceted tool that grew out of my interests in animation, sculpture , philosophy, dream psychology and machinery. Communication is my goal and I use this art form as the best possible medium for my message....as the best possible medium for myself.

Some years ago I began recording my dreams. Sleeping next to a tape recorder, I record my dreams as soon as I awake. From this process ( I have hundreds of them) I've become aquatinted with the language and nature of my unconscious. The core content of my work involves this investigation.

I use animation to bring these fabricated images to life. In a darkened room I present sequentially formed sculptures on a rapidly spinning armature. A synchronized strobe light supplies the illumination. The images exist in real time and viewers are able to share the same space with them. The conflict between sensory information and logic recreates the state of dream reality. The scientific basis for the visual illusion is called the persistence of vision. In this process a series of gestalts is knit into a coherent (or incoherent) whole. Our minds have an overwhelming desire for order. We create the order. What I find fascinating is the nature of that order. It defines us. Just as the viewers visual cortex completes the illusion, so the viewers mind completes the sculpture through personal interpretation. The language of dreams is a universal one and as we cannot control our dreams I make no attempt at controlling the response. In fact the variety of response is one of the great delights of this art form .

Mining this gargantuan flow of activity, just below the threshold of consciousness is important. Consciousness is clearly not up to the task that it thinks it is. Into the mile-wide river of information that flows through our senses, consciousness only dips in a finger. Our bodies actually do much better than the conscious mind knows..... acting and reacting to the world in far more complex ways. We find a record of all this activity in the unconscious. If we ever hope to escape the chauvinism of consciousness with its gross oversimplifications and illusion of control we will need to listen al little more closely to this portal into the ignored the feared and the lost. The conscious mind wants order above all. Just remember, it creates the order. Order however is not what I offer you. Instead I offer a three dimensional window into the world of the unconscious where the emotions run wild and self-deception is an oxymoron.

Gregory Barsamian 1999

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