Parallax - Stuart Allen
Stuart Allen is an artist whose work deals with fundamental elements of perception such as light, time, gravity and space. He has shown photographs, kites and sculpture in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad. His work is found in many private and public collections including the Tokyo Kite Museum, the Crocker Art Museum, the DiRosa Art Preserve, UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, and U.S. Embassy collections in Canada, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, and the Republic of Georgia. Allen has completed permanent public art commissions for the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa, Canada and the Police Headquarters building in Davis, CA. His work has been published in a variety of books and journals including: Picturing California’s Other Landscape: the Great Central Valley, Terra Nova: Nature and Culture, You Are Here: the Journal of Creative Geography, Zyzzyva and Artweek. Allen has lectured or served as a visiting artist at many fine institutions including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Weisman Art Museum, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, and a number of university art departments nationwide. Allen studied architecture at Kansas University and graduated from the photography and video department of the Kansas City Art Institute in 1994. He lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife Kelly Lyons, their daughter Aidan and son Vincent. Allen is represented by the following galleries: PDNB, Dallas, TX; JayJay, Sacramento, CA; Jan Manton Art, Brisbane, Australia; Haw Contemporary, Kansas City, MO.
Stuart Allen, artist, photographer, sculptor, public art, kite, kite maker, art consultant, Jayjay, haw contemporary, pdnb gallery, science and art
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Artist’s Statement

Pigeons bob their heads up and down to perceive depth. This deliberate movement, executed to achieve different viewing angles, is known as motion parallax. By analyzing multiple viewpoints, the animal is able to determine the relative proximity of objects in space. Because our eyes produce overlapping views, humans can perceive depth without moving. Comparing the subtle differences between left and right eye images, our brains produce a complex, three dimension rendering of the world before us. This is known as stereopsis and it provides depth perception without head bobbing. Still, motion parallax plays a critical role in human perception as well.

As a teenager I raced sailboats on midwestern lakes. If you spend any time around competitive sailors you will probably hear the term “making trees”, slang for going faster than your competitor. On the upwind leg of a sailing race – when boats can be some distance apart – it is often difficult to determine who is moving faster. When you watch the shoreline beyond your competition and the competitor’s boat appears to be slipping relative to the trees (i.e. more and more trees appear in front of their boat), you are “making trees” – and this is good, because it means you are going faster. This is also an example of motion parallax; without it we would have a hard time determining relative velocity.

This installation exploits a related form of motion parallax, an auto-animating print known as the parallax panoramagram. The acrylic panels consist of two parts: on the front, a barrier layer with a repeating pattern of thin, opaque lines and, on the back, an image layer containing a sequence of images broken up into vertical strips. As the viewer moves in relation to the piece, the change in perspective displays different sections of the image layer, creating the illusion of movement.

I designed these panels specifically for WindowWorks at Artpace. Because the gallery opens up to Main Avenue and is typically viewed from a moving vantage point (car, bicycle, or on foot), I wanted to activate that motion in a meaningful way. Though the panels themselves are static, the movement of the viewer initiates a dynamic, animated effect. I am interested in this interplay between the audience and art object. Without movement, the work is static. With movement, time and space are activated to create a more complex engagement. Like the bobbing pigeon head, multiple perspectives must be witnessed to achieve the complete experience.

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