Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

July 31, 2006

New Op-Art Exhibition: To see or not to see the WMD?

Filed under: Iraq,News,Politics — secretmojo @ 9:52 pm

Experimental Chicago artist Canyu Sea launched a provocative illusory art exhibition at the Art Institute today featuring an Iraqi weapon of mass destruction that may—or may not—be there.

Depending on your political point of view (amongst other factors), you will see (or not see) a chemical bomb filled with toxic eggs.

“It’s remarkable,” said visitor Matt Frentelli. “My friend kept insisting that there was a bomb there, but no matter how I positioned my head, I couldn’t see it.”

Part of the exhibit are Viewpoints—little marks on the floor you and your friends can take turns standing on to conclude whether the view of the “bomb” is physical, or psychological. Nearly half of the visitors said the bomb was there, while the other half saw nothing, yet none concluded it was due to where they physically stood.

Floor Manager Simon Blade said, “We get a lot of visitors from Europe who think it’s just a clever joke because none of them nor any of their friends can see the bomb. We had a few Iraqis take a look at the exhibit, and none of them saw anything of interest either.”

It’s fascinating, explained Sea, when only one person of a group sees empty space. Sea watched, from the corner, a group of students on field trip. After some time looking and arguing with her friends, a teenager named Samantha eventually could make out a small outline of the “bomb.” By the end of their trip, Samantha was jumping up and down and pointing at the exhibit, saying, “Yes! I see it! I finally see it!”

Sea revealed only part of his method, citing “keeping a magician’s secret sacred.” He developed what he calls a Factual Ennui Distributor, which infuses a field of gullibility around the bomb area itself. Depending on one’s gullibility factor, a bomb may or may not show up. It sounds like jiggery-pokery, but it does indeed work: a non-scientific poll of the visitors entering and leaving produced a near match with the 50/50 split on the general public’s belief in the weapons in Iraq.

Many visitors could describe it in detail, with their descriptions matching others that came in later. But those who couldn’t see it would sometimes walk through it, to the dismay of those who did see. In contrast, those who saw the bomb typically tripped over it when trying to walk through it themselves.

Sea said he almost named it “American WMD,” but was afraid that no one would see his art at all.

When asked whether the bomb really was there, Sea said, “This is the most interesting part, in talking to reporters. I have said ‘yes,’ and I have said ‘no,’ but each and every time I read the paper, it always quotes me as saying ‘maybe,’ even in contridiction to the reporter’s own experience.”

So: is there really a chemical bomb at the Art Institute, and is it dangerous?

Maybe.

WMD, Yes or No?

Two pictures of the exhibit taken from the same camera in the same position. One snapped by my friend Missy, the other by my friend Joseph. Which one do you think you would see?

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