In December I joined Davin on a residency at Wassaic Project in Wassaic, a small Hamlet upstate in New York. Wassaic Project comprises two sites for studios and project spaces in a disused mill and a disused auction mart, and a number of residential buildings that house artists all year round. Davin and I had been experimenting with optical illusions and how they could be employed as metaphors for media distortions and political biases.

Dreamers by Dawn Woolley and Davin Watne, 2018

The text refers to the “Windrush” and “Dreamers” communities in the UK and the US respectively, whose citizenship has been under threat of revocation by current ruling governments.

The use of optical illusions demonstrates the fugitive nature of truth, by aligning the inherent biases in human visual perception with implicit social, political and racial biases in our news media.

The text is installed to replicate a visual distortion illusion in which the segments of different colour text trigger a visual stimulus that is misinterpreted by the brain, leading to the perception that the columns of text and curved.The illusion a of crooked line signifies a broken promise to the Windrush and Dreamers communities.

The residency offered us the opportunity to produce a large scale optical illusion installation and test how well the illusions translate from the page / screen to the wall.

We were extremely please with the outcome, which spanned three walls of a room in the mill, and received very positive feedback during an open studio event on Saturday 15th December. The installation was also included in a group exhibition of residents the following weekend.

The residency and installation were produced with the support of Leeds Arts University and the University of Missouri, Kansas City.