Mobile Phi, 2004

Installation view: Modus Operandi, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, 2004
Photo: Angelika Krinzinger | TBA21

5 light discs with neon tubes, aluminum, perspex, plexiglass, electronic circuitry, cables
250 x 564 x 100 cm
Each disc: ∅ 46 

Mobile Phi is based on a phenomenon discovered in 1912 by the Gestalt psychologist Max Wertheimer, which he described in his famous essay on apparent and real movement. The phenomenon concerns the perception of motion, arising as the result of watching a rapid succession of individual static images – the principle of the cinema film. From this phenomenon Wertheimer concluded that the perception of the whole (in this case the moving figure) must be completely different from the perception of its parts (the individual images). The basic principle of Gestalt psychology – "The whole is more than the sum of its parts" – thus radically called into question the prevailing theories of structuralism and behaviorism. Mobile Phi, which, in contrast to conventional mobiles, only functions two-dimensionally, expands on this phenomenon: Five dots are projected next to each other at random in rapid sequence, causing the observer to "see" an imaginary ball jumping between them. Exploring ideas of reconstructed perception, Mobile Phi suggests that linear time is not as "real" as we believe it to be and that our senses, by their very nature, create the time frame we inhabit.

*1961 in Brussels, Belgium I Living and working in Stockholm, Sweden