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'A Boy's Look' ... behind the scenes 2

...more back-story on the artwork 'A Boy's Look', from the exhibition 'HE, SHE, THEY'.

(Bunbury Biennale 2021, Bunbury Regional Art Gallery )

Another ancient relic from my 1970's childhood: my beloved Airfix catalogue.

I would troll through its pages, ticking the kits I desired. At night, I eyed off the real boxes in the toy shop in which I lived...

... well, that's how I remember it: we actually stayed at the back of my Grandpa' shop in Victoria - briefly a toyshop - for a time far shorter than I remember. But it's true that I was allowed in the shop after closing, "... just put things back in their boxes". Paradise.

Here, 2-D templates of the catalogue's illustrations are used for the second series of discs in the artwork 'A Boy's Look' (Dinosaurs featured in the first series - see the post 'A Boy's Look' ... behind the scenes 1).

The 70's catalogue cover is very telling: Dad holds a helicopter, the boy a plane, the girl a horse. Mum's probably out hanging washing.

More dots based on the Ishihara colour blindness test plates. But this time, camouflage colours, and another perception game. Not 'spot the shapes', but after-images. The colour effect you get when you stare at something for too long ... a neat optical trick I show in my classes as one way of determining a colour's 'opposite'.

Incidentally, this first plane in the series is a Spitfire. I know it's shape intimately - it was my first kit.

The background dots are the after-image of the plane's camouflage patterns.

In the finished works, staring at the white central dot for half a minute will produce the complementary 'after-image' colours in the viewer's visual system. Shift the gaze to the centre of the next disc and there it is.

More dots in after-image colours. And more pairing. In the first series of discs, duality occurred through my childhood book's lumping of dinosaurs into plant-eaters or meat-eaters. No omnivores.

In the warplanes, there were also two sides: the Allies, and the Axis. The goodies and baddies. Trouble was, my family tree had both branches. This Focke-Wulf is German: take your pick.

Interestingly, the background colouration resembles the pastel colour scheme for baby's outfits - the coding system to convey boy or girl.

A final spin, and the discs are attached to their bookshelves. I like using ready-made hardware items in this kind of context. Recalling that gender cliche (her to him) of "when are you going to put up the shelves?" For displaying the artwork, these shelves will be put onto a door - and not the proper way.

These artworks will rely on the viewer's active participation. There is an unintentional but quite fitting side effect to the after-image effect: as you stare, the visual system (retina/brain) produces the opposite colours, superimposed over the top, effectively a colour-reducing layer. The colours therefore appear to dull before your eyes.

Look, and the differences disappear ... its all about perception.


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