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The perpetual perceptual exhibit featuring an optical illusion that shows words flashing across a wall.
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   Skip To Page Navigation perpetual perceptual: An exhibit by Jessica Bronson
  Don't look into the light

Out of the corner of your eye you see poetry flashing by, sensory descriptions painting a rose in your mind. Yet, when you look towards the source, you see only blinking sticks of light. Relying on a concept called retinal painting, the text can be read only with peripheral vision.

Designed by Jessica Bronson, a visual artist and professor at the California Institute of the Arts, perpetual perceptual (about a rose) is situated at the outer edges of NEURO, a tribute to the piece’s peripheral theme. The physical work encourages the visitor to appreciate art from a new angle, literally, while the text builds upon the writing styles of poet Gertrude Stein, who painted pictures with words while never specifically mentioning a poem’s subject.

Bronson met with several Caltech researchers, including Shinsuke Shimojo, who introduced her to the retinal painting phenomenon — a process whereby your brain fills in the missing parts of an image, even if you see it only in fragments. When you stand on one side of a fence, for example, and can see only through a crack to the other side, you can still perceive a person walking by, even if your only information is a flash of movement across the crack.

Bronson used novel software and light sticks custom-fabricated by artist Bill Bell to simulate the fence crack illusion. The illusion works because your eye moves rapidly as you peripherally view the light sticks, blurring the light to reassemble the flashes and create words.

For further details, see Bronson under the “projects” heading on the NEURO website:

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