archival black/white photograph, acrylic, chrome
79.6 x 67.6 x 25cm (HxBxT)
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The works in "Towards Universal Pattern Recognition" represent a physical manifestation of concepts that Shaw has been working through in his films and videos of recent years – concepts that combine documentary footage with optical effects to illustrate instances of altered states and transcendental experience. Using found archival news photographs of people in various states of religious rapture, he creates unique prismatic acrylic that focuses on a precise area of the subject’s body where he perceives the physical core of this transcendental experience to be. The resulting kaleidoscopic repetition and distortion of their image and environment explicitly illustrates the notion that they are experiencing a phenomenon that is shattering their perspective of both physical and mental reality – proposing concepts of parallel or multiple realities and the skewing of linear time. In applying an optical device most commonly associated with filmic representations of psychedelic experience to documentary recordings of religious rapture, the works ask one to consider a universality to all transcendental experience: religious, technological, and otherwise.