Delvaux's Dream

M. Bielicky
Source: M. Bielicky

Michael Bielicky

Delvaux's Dream ,
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  • Delvaux's Dream (featuring the artist)
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  • Delvaux's Dream; Installation Lay-Out
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Paul Delvaux's paintings belong to a completely different art world to Lissitzky's Prouns : in the early twenties, when the Russian artist was exploring suprematist aesthetics, the Belgian painter was executing figurative landscapes. The work Bielicky has selected for his 3D computer graphics model is from a later period evocative of surrealist aesthetics, where Delvaux's landscapes become haunted with vestiges of ancient architectures - columns and colonnades, distant edifices - and a series of other-worldly female characters, often alabaster nudes as in the chosen "enterable painting". Like Lissitzky, Delvaux trained as an architect, and executed many large mural works. Reconstituted with digital technologies, scenes such as the one chosen by Bielicky can be accessed and indeed physically penetrated by spectators, using simple blue-box technology. Other than in a control monitor, they do not see themselves in the pictorial environment. Paradoxically, this results in a situation of "observed immersion" : the live figure evolving in the painting is visibly integrated into the surreal landscape, but he himself is not experiencing this integration in any direct manner - in fact, can only become aware of it if he watches himself on a control monitor. Here, Bielicky's goal is not so much exploration of the painting as an immersive construct, felt as such by the spectator, but rather the sense of delocalisation felt by the spectator as he evolves within the projected environment, monitoring his own movements in this unreal landscape on a screen display. Bielicky has not opted for complex stereoscopic head mounts of any kind, so that the spectator is in fact simply moving around in a blue box which is empty except for a few carefully positioned objects indicating emplacements of architectural elements in the painting, whose circumnavigation ensures
coherence of the screen image integrating the chromakeyed spectator into the painting. His experience is not one of kinaesthetic involvement in a computer world, but rather, a schizoid sensation of identifying with his own screened figure which ostensibly occupies another world. Mirrors and fake backdrops have often been used to generate such trick effects, in popular theatre and arcade games, and Bielicky's project owes as much to these worlds as to the latest blue box technologies. At the same time, though, the projected Delvaux world poses "telepresence" problems similar to those dwelt on by contemporary artists exploring the point
of rupture between one's projected embodiment and one's physically localised self, notably Paul Sermon with his pioneering Telematic Dreaming and subsequent art works. Moreover, the fact that Bielicky has sought to preserve life-like dimensions in the computer-modeled
Delvaux figures accentuates this estrangement, situating the spectator in a landscape which is imbued with disconcerting qualities of verisimilitude by virtue of the one-to-one scale of the female figures he encounters. Whereas aesthetically Delvaux's world differs hugely from that
of the Russian avant-garde artists, the problems his works raise in their computer-generated forms are teaching us much in our experiments with enterable paintings as a whole.
(Andre Bernhardt, Sally Jane Norman in: Enterable Paintings / Immersive Visual Aesthetics, eRENA-D1.3, 1998; text courtesey of M. Bielicky)
  • aesthetics
    • installation-based
    • interactive
    • projected
  • genres
    • installations
      • interactive installations
  • subjects
    • Arts and Visual Culture
      • paintings
Technology & Material
Onyx RealityEngine II, 1 PC (Linux), 1 PC (MS-DOS), 1 programmable, computer-controlled motion-control camera rig, 5 Überwachungskameras, LCD Projektor, Kontrollmonitor
eigens entwickelte Tracking-Software, eigens entwickelte Applikationssoftware, Alias Wavefront, MultiGen
Exhibitions & Events