The Tree That Blinked is a projection-mapped self-portrait toying with notions of identity, representation, and transformation.
The work moves and shifts as the leaves of the tree move with the wind. The expression thus seems to change, and the face appears to undergo changes of age.
The illusion can be compelling. Some folks think the leaves have been individually painted. Others that the tree must have been trimmed to the shape of my head!
Trying to give the work any specific ‘meaning’ is elusive, perhaps even pointless, as viewers bring their own strong personal interpretations. Generally they reference ideas of layered consciousness, and childhood stories of journeys into the forest. Some see it as actively benign, and The Wizard of Oz is frequently mentioned. Somewhere between these interpretations lies some kind of meaning…
It was first shown at Jonathan Ross’s Gallery 286 as part of an exhibition of self-portraits (he does have the perfect garden) and received an enthusiastic reception captured here by videographer Viral Mistry:
There is a blog about the Singapore installation here –
The Tree That Blinked at Singapore Night Festival (WordPress)
Note to arts curators:
The installation needs a roughly suitably shaped tree, along with very low ambient light – in total darkness it is amazing (really!).
The projector needs to be relatively close to the tree (ideally as close as a fully zoomed out projector lens allows) above head height, and as close to the eye-line of the visitors as possible. As you move away the effect breaks up, but this works in its favor when as you approach the tree there comes a point where visitors suddenly ‘see’ a face! The video shows that.
This installation only works in the dark after sunset, and many trees lose their foliage each year. In the UK this limits usage to autumn, though it will work well on a suitably-shaped Christmas tree.
At Gallery 286 we used my own 2.8K lumens projector. At Canary Wharf 6K. At Singapore 18k. The level of ambient light is the biggest factor determining the power required.
Once installed this can be left running. Power can be switched off to the whole set-up during the day to save the bulb, and my custom media player will boot itself up on power-up. Someone just has to switch it on and off.