The Real Thing


The Real Thing (2008) – Feathers detail


The Real Thing (2008) – In flight, in use

What is it?

A 2008 installation by Sydney artist, Jordana Maisie, that combines the traditional tube construction and fractal forms of the kaleidoscope with interactive digital technology. A large, polished tube is erected in a gallery space, with a viewing point at one end. A camera mounted to the lip of the tube captures a small segment of the viewing area, replicates and fragments the image and projects it onto the reflective inner surface of the tube. The “large-scale kaleidoscope has been created with digital technology… yet without the tangible, physical realm inhabited by the viewer’s body, it simply cannot function.”

The work is a continuation of Maisie’s “exploration of the ways in which technology is constantly shifting the relationships between physical and digital space.”

What do we think?

This is a fascinating work, both cerebral and beautiful. It exists at the intersections of craft and high technology, digital space and real place, algorithmic modelling and the physical body. From all of these contradictory, or at least mutually exclusive, pairs, The Real Thing establishes a synergetic experience that smoothly integrates them all. Starting with a viewer’s body, the artwork digitally samples its details and re-interprets it as a shifting, real-time kaleidoscopic pattern, returning the viewer to an awareness of his position and movement. By bending, twisting and flapping his arms, the viewer is “encouraged by the very nature of the work to experience a heightened awareness of his own physicality”.

The work sits comfortably within Maisie’s larger oeuvre. More recent works include the aptly named Liminal Space (2010), a low-key installation that utilises the natural friction between positively and negatively charged particles in soil to generate light, and Close Encounters (2011), an interactive UFO that encourages passers-by to engage via text-message with provocative comments displayed around its circumference.


Liminal Space, 2010


Close Encounters (2011) – Want to talk?

Each of Maisie’s works combine high technology and natural materials in engaging and thought-provoking ways. Not only do they reach out to their audiences and encourage thoughtful exploration, they do so in a way that highlights the dependence on technology that is ever-encroaching upon our previously biological lives.

We look forward to future contributions from this smart and talented artist.

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