Ring

The French artist Arnaude Lapierre has created a mind-bending new installation piece in a square in Paris called the Place Vendôme. The sculpture consists of a stacked grid of reflected cubes, arranged into a standing cylinder. Now the idea of using borderless mirrors to distort space and play with perception is not really a new idea, but this project has two components that make it vastly more interesting. The first is that the reflective cubes are interspersed with empty space, so that at a glance (and even upon closer inspection), it can be difficult to tell what you’re looking at. As if that weren’t enough, because these checkerboard, mirror walls form an enclosed circle, from the inside they bounce images back and forth to each other. So instead of having to decide whether you’re looking at a window or a mirror, you now additionally have to consider the view of mirrors reflecting mirrors, and your mind simply gives up trying to sort it all out!

I think this is a brilliant piece. It chops up and rearranges slices of reality in real time, creating an aesthetic that is both disorienting and beautiful. We are so used to a certain way of seeing, that we aren’t able to process this kind of reality collage, and what at first seems like a simple geometric sculpture ends up feeling like an optical illusion.

My favorite part about this installation though, is that you can’t actually see it. You can point to it, sure, because you can infer its structure from the pattern of reflections, but that’s all there is to see. There isn’t any frame or visible support, that’s all been concealed, so the images are left to stand on their own, abstracted from any kind of physical form. This lack of substance is elegant and poetic, making “Ring” seem more like an optical anomaly materialized in a Paris square than like a human object. Sometimes the best works of art are so jarring and unique that you’re forced to abandon analysis or rationalization and just appreciate what’s there.

Sources: Architizer, DesignBoom.

Johnston Architects

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