“The whole is other than the sum of its parts” opined Kurt Koffka, German psychologist and proponent of Gestalt (literally: form, shape) psychology; the Gestaltists’ objective was to understand how a myriad of perceptual components within the mind and the phenomenal coalesced to form the emergent properties of recognition, identification, and understanding. These psychologists were fascinated by the apparent paradoxes of Necker cubes and Rubin vases with their illusory contours, those familiar optical illusions where multiple interpretations are possible based on figure-ground interchangeability.
The work in '3(D) Printers' is replete with Gestalt themes: paper and card are the ground, on to which each artist has drawn, etched, photographed, cut and manipulated lines and images to create the figure, and vice-versa. An additional level of perceptual complexity is added, removed or subverted through the transposition of two dimensions to three, and back to two. In so doing, layers are built, spaces are transmogrified, and boundaries are stretched or rendered redundant. Ambiguous spaces in the images engender various senses, by turns of warmth, stasis, austerity or isolation. Monoliths in concrete and stone undergo radical changes via both analogue and digital, becoming unrecognisable through alterations in light, shade and colour.
The sheer range of techniques employed by the artists reinforces the idea of the multifaceted nature of the perceived, and how media impinge on our response to what is seen; displayed pieces include photographs, photomontage, etching, photo-etching, chine-collé, aquatint, digital print, paper sculpture, and drawing among others. These techniques are deployed to subtract something in the name of abstraction.
The result of these experiments is not something, as Koffka maintained, that can be understood as either a reduction or amplification of the individual parts, but instead that their synthesis creates something quite other.