Review of "The Eye of the Artist: The Work of Devorah Sperber"
at the Brooklyn Museum
January 26-- May 6, 2007

New Scientist
March 17, 2007

Second Sight
"Eye of the Beholder"
by Amamda Gefter

After van Eyck, 2006, by Devorah Sperber, New York City
New York artist Devorah Sperber has always been fascinated by the science behind vision, curious to understand how viewers experience her artwork. "As a visual artist," she says, "I cannot think of a topic more stimulating and yet so basic than the act of seeing." To explore the process of sight, Sperber recreates famous works of art out of pixelated abstract sculptures.

Sperber begins by deconstructing an image into pixels, then reassmbles it using reels of coloured thread to represent each pixel. These are strung together to form a huge sculptur eand the entire ensemble is then hung upside down, to reflect the way images are projected upside down on our retinas. A clear, acrylic sphere is positioned in front of the sculpture for viewers to peer through, so that what originally seems to be a huge abstract tapestry of coloured cotton suddenly appears as an iconic image.

The sculpture pictured here, After van Eyck (2006), is based on Jan van Eyck's Man with a Red Turban (1433) and is made of 5024 spools of thread. Sperber uses reels of thread because they are available in more than 300 colours and-side-on-appear square, like digital pixels. The use of thread creates a contrast between high and low technology, with the brain "sewing" together a digital image. Sperber always works with masterpieces because they are such familiar images, leaving the viewer all the more surprised when they emerge. Her rendition of Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper is almost 9 meters wide and made from 20,736 spools of thread.

The disparity beween the sculpture seen with the naked eye and the same sculpture seen through the viewing spehre is intended to make viewers think more deeply about the act of sight. We do not see the world merely as it is, her pieces remind us; we see the end product of the brain's information processing.

"The Eye of the Artist: The Work of Devorah Sperber" is at the Brooklyn Museum in New York until 6 May. -Amanda Gefter

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