3D Lenticular Work

Where Are You From - 3d Lenticular                                  BP_05_12_008

This article, by writer Barry Dumka, was published in conjunction with the debut of Bruce Pashak’s 3D Lenticular light boxes at the 2012 Toronto International Art Fair.


“I have always wanted images to disappear in certain places”       -Bruce Pashak

The intrigue for illusionary visual space can be traced back to antiquity.  Painting broke free of its surface constraints in the Baroque period though perhaps only Caravaggio knew what to do with that projective freedom. His work engulfed the viewer so they felt caught up in the drama. The religiosity available through art could finally move from being an inspirational aim to a privately sensual experience. He even made it that the trick celebrated its own trickery, a very modern stance.

More recently, three dimensionality in visual experience became an ever-cheaper form of movie magic, a digital toy for children. And soon it will be just another tool in the hands of advertisers: the mirage of materialism. It would seem to be all downhill from here.

Bruce Pashak’s 3D lenticular lightboxes aim for a different advantage. The 6’ x 4’ lightboxes have the size of bus shelter ads but the piety of a private confessional. The radiance of light emanating from each framed panel seems to sanctify these spaces. The digital lenticular transfer process starts with Pashak’s studio work so the end result is classically-formal draughtsmanship wedded to technology.

What is intended is a marriage of equals. Both the selected text and imagery, as well as the technology itself, are meant to serve the viewer in a individualised experience. The work is complex, sly and compelling. In the illusive depths and forward motion of these spaces we can actualise our own interpretation of Pashak’s visual cosmologies. Or simply give ourselves over to the light of this creative hallowed space. Pashak claims no agenda though – as a self-professed abstract conceptual artist – he uses technology cleverly luring the eye toward a deeper consideration of meaning. These might be existentialist mouse traps with gorgeous colours and imagery as the bait.

In “Bird of Paradise”, Pashak shows how perception hovers in the balance between material and ephemeral worlds. The bird, baubles and bright scrabble of text float into place, hovering somewhat capriciously before us as we try to solve their meaning in this ever-dissolving space. Pashak knows how to play with optics as much as imagery. The angelic beauty of the hummingbird actually feels like an apparition, both transitory and transformative.  That the ‘effiusiveness’ of the piece literally pours out at us shows just how cunning the work seeks to be.

Given its textual reference, “Where Are You From” reads like a profile in courage. But it also shows in starkest relief how important perception is to socio-cultural choices and to Pashak’s work as a whole. The title line in the piece – a rare fully-encoded phrase from an artist known for his jabberwocky – refers to the question Mark Stroman put to a Texaco gas station worker before he shot him in the face. In the wake of the horrors of September 11, Stroman sought to avenge America by killing people of ‘Arab’ appearance.  He first killed two men of Pakistani and Indian descent before entering the gas station and shouting the question to the Bangladeshi behind the counter. He fired before he got a reply.

Pashak makes smart use of the 3D lenticular technology. The suspended profile – a woman of colour, calm and open – radiates through the space just as the central question sinks in. Where, who, what, why. All the pointed queries that perception faces pull us into this virtual scene. The figure is conservatively dressed as a traditional domestic though her own features are expressive and unconstrained. Appearing in context with the bird, lizard and rat beside her – a menagerie of lower order life – we question her value.

Or perhaps – following Foucault’s suggestion – we should question our own classificatory system. Where does objective reality lie?  Indeed, the woman appears to be essentially herself; enigmatic as all great portraiture strives for. The lenticular technology – this floating world – releases her, and us, to a more immersive consideration of meaning and individual value.


Barry Dumka