Carsten Höller

Baltic Phi Wall and Neon Circle

13 July 2002 - 26 August 2002

German artist Carsten Höller focuses mainly upon the production of installation art and regularly invites the participation of the viewer. This interaction between the viewer and the object is an attempt by Höller to provide relief from what he calls the burden of straightforwardness. Höller finds himself drawn towards making work that crosses the boundaries between fine art, science and sociology.

Höller was commissioned by BALTIC to make work for the opening exhibition in July 2002. He created an installation which included two light sculptures, Baltic Phi Wall, 2002 which was exhibited across the back wall, dominating the space within which Neon Circle, 2001 was also shown. Visitors were encouraged to enter Neon Circle, 2001. Both works use light to create a physically disorientating effect in the viewer, altering his or her perception of the space, stimulating visual phenomena.

Baltic Phi Wall, 2002 was designed around a concept discovered by Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer in 1912. If two dots are projected in rapid sequence next to one another, with a short moment of black in between, most observers ‘see’ an imaginary ball jumping from one to the other. This effect is remarkable, as it raises the question of how the viewer can ‘know’ where the second dot will be projected, when the imagined ball is already on its way towards the future site of projection. This is also possible with two projections of different colours; the viewer experiences a sudden shift in colour between the projection sites. The Baltic Phi Wall, 2002 is an extended display of this phenomenon. Four imaginary balls were seen ‘jumping’ simultaneously over a surface of 93 dots, thereby sometimes changing colour. The sequences were generated at random.

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