Heavens Gate – Anamorphic
Heavens Gate is a video installation first shown in the neoclassical stairwell of Felix Meritis building, in Amsterdam, in 1987. For its exhibition in Tokyo a new anamorphic version of Heavens Gate was made whereby the optically deformed video image was projected onto a horizontal screen, in the centre of which was an upright chrome-plated cylinder. When seen reflected in this cylindrical mirror, the anamorphic video became geometrically corrected and comprehensible. Given that optical transformation was already integral to the conceptual and aesthetic underpinnings of Heavens Gate, it was appropriate to extend this concept into the optical and virtual imaginary of an anamorphic modality of perception and experience. This installation is possibly the first video to use the traditional perspective technique of anamorphosis, which dates back to Leonardo da Vinci.
The conceptual and iconographic references in Heavens Gate are largely derived from Baroque ceiling paintings and aerial/satellite pictures of the surface of Earth. These images alternate in a computer-processed videographic morphology that deconstructs and manipulates the constituent pixels of the original images and then anamorphically reconfigures them in a virtual, three-dimensional space. This digital tromp l'oeil characterises the awesome contemporary view down from space, which inverts the ecstatic Baroque gaze up to the heavens. Further iconographic references in this work conjoin these viewing extremities—the futurist embrace of the aerial point of view and the spatial apotheoses of El Greco, William Blake and Piero Manzoni among others.