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Casey Reas' Newest Art Is A Coded, Projected 'Allegory Of The Cave'

While the pas de trois may look like one of Reas' simpler works, there's a lot more at work here.

It's no secret that we're big fans of Casey Reas; the maverick data artist and co-creator of Processing has been a Creators Project fixture for years now. Even when he takes to Twitter to humbly post his newest work, around these parts, it doesn't go unnoticed.

Even The Greatest Stars Discover Themselves In The Looking Glass, An Allegory of the Cave for Three People is Reas' latest work since late 2013 saw an exhibition at bitforms gallery, and despite its inscrutable subject matter and low-key production style, is rapidly becoming one of our favorite pieces in his oeuvre.


Reas explains:

The installation, "Even the Greatest Stars Discover Themselves in the Looking Glass, an Allegory of a Cave for Three People," stages an experience shared by three audience participants as mediated through two custom instruments and a photographic apparatus. It explores identity and the body, specifically in relation to data surveillance and portraiture/photography.

Borrowing the format of a script, it defines an interaction between three people, each with a specific role. The “star” looks at her/himself in a mirror, while a grid (the “metric”) is projected on her/his face. The two other performers (“administrators”) sit in front of a screen, directly opposite the mirror. They can see the screen, but can't see the “star.” The “administrators” control the image of the “star,” while the “star” can’t see them or the image they are controlling. One “administrator” defines the resolution of the projected “metric.” The second “administrator” defines the way the image is resolved on the screen. All three participants are a part of an integrated media system, but they act independently.

It's heady stuff, but while the processing (for lack of a better word) might be complicated, we love it's simplicity of form. One of our favorite things about Even the Greatest Stars Discover Themselves in the Looking Glass, An Allegory of the Cave for Three People is the fact that Reas shot and edited it himself. Talk about a Rennaissance, artist (comma needed for obvious reasons).

Keep it locked to @REAS on Twitter and Flickr, and, while you're at it, revisit our documentary on his mind-bending collaboration with Yeasayer.

Images via Reas' Flickr