About Optical Art

It seems to me that ‘Optical Art’ is about using fundamental psychological and mathematical principles that inform the way we interpret the universe, to create what – I hope – are beautiful and interesting pictures.

Triangle 3
“Triangle” by Chris Tucker, 1968 – One thousand painted cubes of wood, cut and glued, making a 3D effect. Dimensions are 60″ x 60″ inches / 153 x 153cms

Physicists Hawking and Mlodinow wrote in their book ‘The Grand Design’ (page 46), published by Bantam Press in 2010:

In vision, one’s brain receives a series of signals down the optic nerve. Those signals do not constitute the sort of image you would accept on your television. 

There is a blind spot where the optic nerve attaches to the retina, and the only part of your field of vision with good resolution is a narrow area about 1 degree of visual angle around the retina’s centre, an area the width of your thumb when held at arm’s length.

And so the raw data sent to the brain are like a badly pixilated picture with a hole in it. Fortunately, the human brain processes that data, combining the input from both eyes, filling in the gaps on the assumption that the visual properties of neighbouring locations are similar and interpolating.

Moreover, it reads a two-dimensional array of data from the retina and creates from it the impression of three dimensional space. The brain, in other words, builds a mental picture or model”

Optical Art takes this “assumption that the visual properties of neighbouring locations are similar and interpolating” and creates images, that do not have these properties or the sub-conscious expected psychological baggage of ‘reality’ (chairs, people, books, television, trees, et al) and confuses this assumption.

By using geometry, number series, colour theory and artistic intuition, Optical pictures can, at the same time, be alluring, disturbing, exciting and intrigue the viewer. Their appreciation is not a function of history, culture, education or context, but they do say to the viewer:

“What are you looking at? Why do I move? Why am I disturbing you? Why do I keep your attention?”

‘Optical Art’ provides a counterpoint and juxtaposition to the way some realities are presented in a Photoshop, special effect, technology driven world.

Click here to see some of my 3Dimensional  artworks and Optical Art Objects.