Carsten Höller: BALTIC Phi Wall (2002)

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Carsten Höller's 'Phi Wall' light installations

Phi Wall and Neon Circle
Carsten Höller was commissioned by BALTIC to make work for the opening exhibition in July 2002. He created an installation which included two light sculptures, Baltic Phi Wall, 2002 which was exhibited across the back wall, dominating the space within which Neon Circle, 2001 was also shown.

Image: Neville Blaszk
© BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Image: Jerry Hardman Jones
© BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art

Gestalt theory
Baltic Phi Wall, 2002 was designed around a concept discovered by Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer in 1912.  If two dots are projected in rapid sequence next to one another, with a short moment of black in between, most observers ‘see’ an imaginary ball jumping from one to the other. This effect is remarkable, as it raises the question of how the viewer can ‘know’ where the second dot will be projected, when the imagined ball is already on its way towards the future site of projection. 
Jumping dots
The Baltic Phi Wall, 2002 is an extended display of this phenomenon.  Four imaginary balls were seen ‘jumping’ simultaneously over a surface of 93 dots, thereby sometimes changing colour. The sequences were generated at random.
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