By David Famularo
“In reviewing the ‘cause and effect’ of perceptual illusions, one must ask themselves; for what purpose do ‘illusions’ exist if our mind’s eye is unable to process what we actually see?”
At first glance “I See. I Saw” is simply a clever piece of Op Art, also known as optical art, a style of visual art that uses optical illusions. Time magazine coined the term in 1964 although examples exist well before and after that.
But in the public’s mind, it’s a style that is mostly associated with that decade so it is interesting that Annabelle Buick has decided to revisit it. Although there has been a few artists recently who have reconnected with mid-twentieth century High Modernism.
Buick has used cheap synthetic materials such as black webbing and reflector tape and grosgrain ribbon stretched over canvas frames for this exhibition. She doesn’t explain in her accompanying text why she chose these materials although they do give the works much of their own unique flavour.
Buick doesn’t make any direct reference to her part Maori ancestry except for a note that she is of Ngati Pukenga and Scottish descent. However, the works do echo the traditional technique and designs of traditional Maori flax weaving.
In her accompanying notes, Buick seems most interested in the implications of optical illusions and their interpretation by the human eye. We trust our eyes to reveal/present the truth of our reality. If they can’t be trusted, then what does that say about this reality? seems to be the gist of her argument.
“Perhaps, the illusion is a mirror for us to reflect internally within one’s mind’s eye – to look, seek and explore our own perceived ‘unseen’ impossibilities to create our ‘eye-deal’ realities for the world to ‘see’.”
Buick plays with the metaphor of sight in all of her titles – Eye Line Err, Eyesore, Unsee, Frequent See, Seize the Sight Mind’s Eye – but I’m not sure that these provide any clue to understanding the works better.
At the end of the day I am left with what I found at the beginning. Some clever technical pieces of Op Art to enjoy.