The Transported Man
How can a magic trick help us understand an artwork? The spectator of a magic trick wonders what happened in the ineffable moment when a magician disappears and reappears at the other side of the stage, in the same way a museum visitor might wonder what happened when a common object like a bar of soap, a mirror, or a shoe reappears as a sculpture. Magic, like artwork, relies on a system of belief cultivated between the magician and his or her audience. The wider the gap between what the audience sees and what it is asked to believe, the more efficient and spectacular the trick can be. A foreword by museum director and exhibition curator Marc-Olivier Wahler discusses the contemporary art exhibition within the framework of a teleportation magic trick described in Christopher Priest’s 1995 novel The Prestige. Included is an interview between Wahler and France-based curator Christophe Kihm addressing how the brain reacts when interpreting an artwork, the language with which to approach art, and how these impact the future of museums and art exhibitions. Pairing the exhibition objectives with methods of illusion, an original essay by Christopher Priest, and a text by Francis Ponge, the book provides insight into the importance of belief and the nature of visual perception. Published on the occasion of the exhibition The Transported Man at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University.
MARC-OLIVIER WAHLER is Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University.