Playful Patterning: Michael Snow’s Blind.
On display at the AGO, Toronto until March 17, 2013, in the “Michael Snow: Objects of Vision, Winner of the 2011 Gershon Iskowitz Prize” showcase, Michael Snow’s sculptural piece, Blind, 1968, demands the audiences interaction as it plays with their spatial reference to the piece with optical trickery. Snow layers steel and aluminum chain-link walls inviting the viewer to walk through the spaces between the sheets and decipher the unique patterns of each wall while passing through.
The layering of the differentiating patterns holds a two-fold interest to the sculpture. First, the result of the layering an all-over patterning harks back to abstract expressionist painting, and second, the layering causes the involuntary action for the viewer to constantly shift their optical focus from layer to layer of the chain-link, never resting on a singular focal point. The constant shifting of optical focus confuses the viewer’s spatial relationship to the piece and their own depth perception, producing a disorienting experience for the viewer.
In an attempt to master one’s senses and control their involuntary optical activity, the sculpture entices the viewer to interact within the space to satisfy their curiosity over the sculpture’s unique control over their visual senses. Interestingly, photographs of the work reverse the effect of the piece as it flattens the layers of chain-link into a homogenized geometric pattern—the playful optical tease and experiential significance of the piece is therefore lost.
− Katlin Rogers