By: Peggy Nelson
September 10, 2010

Objects in the mirror are not as correct as they appear.

Recently on HiLobrow, Matthew Battles examined anamorphic art, that technique of creating specially distorted images that resolve themselves with the help of an acute angle, a tin can, a different perspective, or other reflective technologies.

[The Ambassadors, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1533]

Anamorphic imagery vibrates with cognitive dissonance — between success and failure, between pattern and distortion, between worldly wonders and the ultimate storage space — between life and death.

But outside the art world we’re more pragmatic: if the right one gets out, then at least don’t run it over.

In West Vancouver, an anamorphic painting of a child chasing a ball has been applied to a road near a school. A joint project between the police and a community group, it is designed to raise driver awareness.

So despite filtering design from art, and traffic from signs, the same cognitive dissonance remains at play: life and death. Warning. Slow. Yield.


Codebreaking, Spectacles

What do you think?

  1. As Mammoth’s Stephen Becker pointed out, I am really not sure about the safety wisdom of training drivers to ignore children in the street. You can only surround yourself with so many momento mori, before they stop being momento and become facio. Which is fine when you end up with goths, but less fine when you end up with real children smeared along the road.

  2. That’s an interesting point, Tim. Regarding the function of the thing — and we do need to regard function when considering the realm of design — maybe tricks like this only work once, *before you know about them; and after that, as you point out, the casual disregard we append to the unreal leaches out to infect the real.

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