Nicolas Sassoon’s new commission WAVES is part of his ongoing body of work using Moiré patterns – a visual blur inadvertently discovered by Swiss photographer Ernst Moiré – whereby two images are overlaid to create a third ‘plane’. The resulting optical effect causes the eye to see movement where there is none.
The artist’s concern with visually vibrating patterns stems from his interest in the various factors relating to a computer screen, a matrix display with inherent limitations of depth, detail and colour. Sassoon uses such considerations – restrained palette and individual pixels – as the parameters to make a series of hypnotic animations specifically designed to be seen on such displays. Avoidance of smooth gradients instead leans toward the hard-edged, grids and lines creating complex configurations that test the screen itself in its technological ability to process and render such information accurately.
Sassoon is drawn to early computer graphics because of their strong physicality articulated via limited means. For example, the colour grey was originally made by placing white and black pixels next to each other, varying their density to create the desired shade. Even though the process effectively produced a variety of tone the isolated white or black pixels remained visible, revealing themselves as a vibrating image of squares and lines, and thus creating an accidental field of movement. For Sassoon such unintentional effects provide the basis for his own abstract arrangements using similar base elements as a means to represent complex forms.
The Moiré pattern designed for the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station is formed by the physical layering of a symmetrical configuration of vertical, curved black lines on top of a coloured pixelated background. With no focal point the mural is activated by the movement of the viewer. As commuters pass by the two overlapping planes, horizontal waves appear to undulate rhythmically across the image surface. Initially disorientating, sustained viewing creates an immersive effect, altering our usual encounter with the entrance of the station, notionally erasing its glass side as if to reveal another dimension.
Sassoon’s abstractions are rooted in the ‘real’, always based in some representational form, their movement reminiscent of nature and tied to the landscape. As one image plane interferes with the other, waves, clouds scudding across the sky, a field of grass blowing in the wind or other meteorological and atmospheric occurrences are suggested. Virtual graphics are transformed into physical manifestations, pixel-generated movements translated into architectural interventions. We are momentarily transported.
Since mid-July, WAVES by Nicolas Sassoon has been on view at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Skytrain Station. This is the second commission the CAG has produced for this public space. The first was Scott Massey’s poetic blue sky.
Currently Nicolas Sassoon’s graphic mural is installed on the north window of the Station. For this work, Nicolas created a multi-layer Moire pattern to intentional cause an optical effect that gives an impression of movement – so commuters can see WAVES “moving” as they are passing by to catch their train.
The installation seems to evolve during the day with the change of light. WAVES is highlighted in the morning from the inside of the station, because of the rising sun, and from the outside in the late afternoon. The wind also accentuates the pattern by making the layer vibrate gently and when a train passes through the turbulence adds a dramatic tension.
Every day I commute through this station myself, and as I go down the stairs, I can sense the effect’s of the mural. It catches my field of vision and when I look closer, I notice the coloured screen of WAVES, which not only draws my attention to my own movement but also the trees and the light outside through its pixels.
Nicolas Sassoon’s Off-site project WAVES will remain on view at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line until January 20, 2013.MORE
On Wednesday July 11 between 1:30 and 4:30 am Nicolas Sassoon with four extension ladders and some expert help installed the first layer of WAVES at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Canada Line Station.
It was a difficult task getting to the North windows above the stairs. We tried the morning before with a boom, but couldn’t get the massive machine through the door.
Thanks to Contrada Enterprises LTD for helping us solve the problem. In less than 24 hours they pulled together a great crew who fearlessly climbed the 40 foot extension ladders and clamped on the frame in less than three hours.
The mural was finished the next afternoon by Proper Design who perfectly applied the second layer to the outside windows.
Many thanks to both. The piece looks great. It is on view at the Yaletown-Roundhouse Station, Canada Line until January 20, 2013. We hope you get to see it numerous times.MORE