Anders Persson’s technology-ridden works push the envelope of visual stimuli

The Swedish artist lends a new perspective to the debate running between art and science around the functionality of visual perception with a lens of technology.

by Dilpreet Bhullar Published on : Aug 11, 2020

The overlaps between science and art, when it comes to the function of visual experience, may seem a recent interest among the neurobiologists, psychologists, and even physicists. Perhaps, it could not be ignored that at different junctions of art history, the visual perception of the objects around us has incessantly occupied the minds of artists. The struggle between the objective reality and subjective opinion might be long enough but does not hint at an affirmative settlement between the two ways of looking at the things around us. For the co-founder of the art movement Cubism, Georges Braque, the external object and its perception are not two separate things, but as he puts it, “A thing cannot be in two places at once. You can’t have it in your head and before your eyes”. The conceptual idea and its artistic representation got more complicated with the advent of technology. Swedish artist Anders Persson, with his works, pushes these discussions to cement the fact that art and science, when brought together, further challenges our notions of visual perceptions. 

The piece in motion | Anders Persson| STIRworld
The piece in motion Image: Courtesy of Anders Persson

At the physical plane, more than 50 per cent of the human sensory input involves the visual perception that includes a close reconciliation between the outer world that runs before us and inner self that embraces it. To manipulate the actual object and confront the normative art of seeing, Persson, in an interview with STIR, explains, “The work that I publish is part of a greater process of creating and uploading one audiovisual work every single day. This premise gives me the opportunity to try out new ideas as they come to me, knowing that every day is a fresh start and a new possibility. With that being said, I do fall into periods where I fixate on a certain concept or aesthetic and try to explore it until I feel satisfied. I have previously been interested in geometry instancing, L-systems and audio visualisations”.

The particle system of the piece is followed by the rendered texture as a height map for the torus geometry in the image | Anders Persson| STIRworld
The particle system of the piece is followed by the rendered texture as a height map for the torus geometry in the image Image: Courtesy of Anders Persson

Since Persson’s work also delves into the art of audio making, the influences shared between the two fields are inseparable. He explains the ideation and execution process before the final form is presented to the audience, “When working on a video, I start with the visuals. I do all of my visual works in Touchdesigner since it’s the environment I feel most comfortable with. Sometimes I have a clear idea as to what I want to make, for example during a period where I focus on a specific concept, but most of the time I try to surprise myself by exploring beyond my comfort zone. When the visuals are done, I make a quick piece of music and then I am done”.

The terrain is all procedural and reacts to audio in real time | Anders Persson | STIRworld
The terrain is all procedural and reacts to audio in real time Image: Courtesy of Anders Persson

The repetition and transformation of the visuals in the works seem to hint at the world that lies between wakefulness and sleep: a pandora of cognitive underpinning to our human thoughts. The technology of augmented reality and coding enables the recreation of these processes and experiences to make us ponder if the interdependency between art and technology will define the conceptual art practice in the coming years. Personn states, “I don’t know what role conceptual arts will have in the future of visual art, but technological advances will, of course, have a great impact in shaping the affordances of the future”.

A satellite image as a basis for creating colour, normal and height maps for this piece | Anders Persson| STIRworld
A satellite image as a basis for creating colour, normal and height maps for this piece Image: Courtesy of Anders Persson

The imaging technology is seeing an unprecedented rise in complexity and sophistication that always offer a new way of showcasing the reality, and does not fail to raise the bar of simulating visual experience. Against such a spree of new developments, Persson expects his viewers “to find something to cherish about the individual videos, but also to appreciate the daily routine of producing and publishing one audiovisual work a day, which is at the centre of my art practice”. The debate around the indeterminate and representational arts was given a new voice when it was interspersed with the field of technology. The works of Persson, if showcased beyond the format of Instagram, could serve as an insightful site to further probe the questions around judgemental latencies and visual stimuli.

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