The Unconscious Eye 2003

After studying a great deal of art history and in particular seeing how painting was deconstructed I decided I wanted to develop my own system to draw/trace what the eye "actually" saw in great works of art. I had heard of eye tracking and thought that I could develop a similiar system after the experience gained from developing the art installation Pissoir with the Sydney-based artist Allan Giddy.

The black and white thumbnails below show stills from eye drawings created during the exhibition. The other thumbnails show stills from the installation as it was first exhibited. The "Launch Demo" link shows the playback of an archived live eye drawing. The image here is from the Portrait of a Nude Woman (the 'Fornarina') by Raffaelo Sanzio. This is a great example of the so-called "male gaze".

Basically the installation consists of two walls with a cavity in the middle that houses the computer, screen and camera construction. On the one side of the wall is a peep hole that visitors to the work can look though. Upon looking through one can see his/her own eye for a second or two. During these few seconds the iris is captured. After this capture process b/w images of  "great works of art" are seen.

At this point one will notice that his/her seeing is connected by a white line. In other words seeing is drawn.

During this drawing stage other visitors to the work can see the live eye drawing projected onto the other wall face.

If there are no visitors using the work then previous drawings are played back from an achive of past drawings.

Images from Michelangelo, deHeem, Delacroix, Durer, Eck, Picasso, Keeffe, Lippi, Malevich, Manet, da Vinci, Rodin, Rubens, Titian as well as images from other artists were used as the images that the visitors saw and draw over.

The unconscious eye was first exhibited at the Schloss Solitude Germany in April 2003.

Flash Movie


Steven Greenwood 2003