Misdirection(al) device

I’m expanding my latest itteration of devices that misdirect.

The misdirectional device transports the viewer through time and space. Transportation happens between reality and ‘stage’ and present and past. (the future can only be predicted, not viewed ;) )

Important references for this box are Dan Graham’s Time delay rooms and Marcel Duchamp’s entant donnés. The time delay rooms are transporting the viewer in time through video and sound. 

dan-graham-time-delay-room-1This closed-circuit installation was varied by Dan Graham six times following the same structural set-up as described below:
«Two rooms of equal size, connected by an opening at one side, under surveillance by two video cameras positioned at the connecting point between the two rooms. The front inside wall of each features two video screens – within the scope of the surveillance cameras. The monitor which the visitor coming out of the other room spies first shows the live behavior of the people in the respective other room. In both rooms, the second screen shows an image of the behavior of the viewers in the respectively other room – but with an eight second delay.
The time-lag of eight seconds is the outer limit of the neurophysiological short-term memory that forms an immediate part of our present perception and affects this «from within». If you see your behavior eight seconds ago presented on a video monitor «from outside» you will probably therefore not recognize the distance in time but tend to identify your current perception and current behavior with the state eight seconds earlier. Since this leads to inconsistent impressions which you then respond to, you get caught up in a feedback loop. You feel trapped in a state of observation, in which your self-observation is subject to some outside visible control. In this manner, you as the viewer experience yourself as part of a social group of observed observers [instead of, as in the traditional view of art, standing arrested in individual contemplation before an auratic object].

(Gregor Stemmrich, «Dan Graham,» in Thomas Y. Levin, Ursula Frohne, Peter Weibel (eds.), CTRL[SPACE]. Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother, ZKM | Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, 2001, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, London, 2002, p. 68.)


Dan Graham’s work brings video and architecture together. These time delay pieces address the idea of who’s viewing who, he sometimes lets the viewer decide to be either audience or performer (in the time delay room series), but in other works like Two Rooms/reverse video delay the conversation is more about surveillance (as the viewer can move between rooms A and B, the screen in room A shows footage from room B 8 seconds ago and vice versa. One can see himself in room A if he was in room B 8 seconds ago, if not he sees either the reflection of an empty room or others in that room.)fullsizerender-3

His work Present continuous past(s) is adressing time. It shows footage on a screen of the room 8 seconds ago, two walls however are mirrors. This means, if the viewer is not blocking the camera view directly, he can see the footage of him 8 seconds ago AND reflected in the wall behind him the screen with footage from 16 seconds ago and inside that screen another with footage from 24 seconds ago, and endless view back in time. fullsizerender-2

He even goes further with the time delay method and incorporates sound. Instead of just a screen showing images of people in the room 8 seconds ago there is another room with a performer describing the actions he sees in the other rooms. This audio is added to the effect of the time delay.fullsizerender-1

Dan Graham also has great works with one and two way mirrors that just mess with your perception of space. The viewer doesn’t know anymore where is real and reflected or where the view they’re viewing is coming from. This is an important idea I want to take on board in my Misdirectional device.dan-graham-two-way-mirrordan-graham-4

Marcel Duchamps Entant Donnés are in a sence also a transportation, not in time but in space. He creates a ‘veil’ which is the door into another realm. Behind the veil or filter as I would call it, there’s a whole other world, completely fabricated and fake though. I find this transportation into the ‘theater set’ interesting, looking through the door, but the transportation is only one way. I am more interested in being continuously being transported between reality and stage only to discover you didn’t really know which was which. 



I got really into Dan Graham’s work and want to incorporate his time delay method into my new and improved box. The main idea is to layer a lot of fakes and realities over each other to utterly confuse the viewer and ultimately make him aware of the illusion. Going in with a number of expectations and starting at reality, diving into the fabricated and then step by step coming closer to reality again.

 Working on

A drawing of my box that explains the sequence, content and direction of viewing. It’s a kind of exploded view diagram drawing that incorporates construction with viewing lines and what is actually viewed inside. Here’s a little reference of style I’d like to achieve eventually. If anyone has more references, please let me know!!


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3 Responses to Misdirection(al) device

  1. Maxime Monin says:

    Actually, Manolis once told me about this essay by Foucault called ‘Las Meninas’ (introduction of the book ‘The Order of Things’) that you should read if you have time. It is about the painting of the same name which is very elaborate in term of gaze, and interplay viewer/viewed. The Dan Graham installation made me think about it.

  2. Nicholas Zembashi says:

    Hey! Less about the content and of reality but maybe about more about the staging was reminded of Shirin Neshat’s art piece below, you can see the split screen one but the other one in the stadium is more interesting the viewer is caught between the two performances ont he two screens opposite of each other. The viewer is also in a stadium like the performers and in the man’s case the stadium is full and in the woman’s case empty etc. … It’s a beautiful piece the two screens opposite each other and spectator’s caught in the middle is what came to mind with the room/box you drew ;)