Daihei Shibata @ Hyperallergic
For Japanese artist and video director Daihei Shibata, daily life offers innumerable opportunities to present illusions. Among other commercial and artistic endeavors, Shibata has made Unexpected Outcome, a series of little video compilations that collect visual illusions generated in physical or virtual reality by the artist. An elevator door unzips like a vinyl jumpsuit; the addition of a battery to a simple electrical rig illuminates the battery case rather than the light bulb and fixture to which it is attached; a soccer ball drops and bounces once, before shifting slightly to reveal itself as a 2D photograph that falls flat to the ground. In every case, Shibata has identified, and then thwarted, the expectations we unconsciously generate about objects, based on our lived experience and the tiresome reality of physics. Oftentimes, the whimsical upending of the expectation we didn’t even realize we held succeeds in bringing a smile. But of course, for Shibata — like all illusionists — identifying the expectations we hold for objects is a conscious process.
“There are various techniques to make illusion,” said the artist in an email interview with Hyperallergic. “First of all, at the stage of drawing ideas, [making sure that] everyone can understand it, and we are trying to deal with themes that are not too strange. And within that theme, we find common items from seemingly unrelated things and link them together to choose concrete things that will create new value and discoveries.” Shibata has literally systemized this process, as a process sketch accompanying the Unexpected Outcome videos demonstrates. Shibata first aligns four objects directly with an associated value: bananas = yellow, push = open, chair = sit down. Then he reconnects each column with a different terminus; now a chair will light up, a banana will be sit upon, and push is, enigmatically, yellow. Perhaps each of these will not result in a fully rendered illusion, but it creates a jumping-off point from which Shibata instigates “nonverbal dialogue.”
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