The night of the American midterm elections, my friends and I left campus and headed over to a bar on the other side of the canal to watch the coverage. In order to get there, we had to go through the pedestrian tunnel under Nicholas Avenue. You know, the one with the big ramp, set of stairs, and freaky portraits of blurry people?
Thanks to daylight savings, it was already pitch black out. Walking through a tunnel when it’s dark is scary as it is (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, anyone?), but the pictures definitely added to the air of horror, especially since they move as you walk past them.
The photos feature a diverse set of blurry portraits, which shift positions as you walk past, and verbs that pop up once you’re standing right in front of them. This style of art is called lenticular printing, wherein the image changes when perceived from different angles. You may have seen this technique used in some of your Halloween decorations.
Seeing things move in your peripheral vision while you walk down a tunnel towards pitch black darkness is not my idea of a fun time.
At the same time, I couldn’t help feeling a bit of nostalgia for the lenticular agendas I would get in elementary school, with the unsatisfyingly scratchy covers. But, instead of blurry, sepia-toned pictures, they typically featured animals on their way to school, or inspirational sayings like “Learning is Fun!” or “Reach for the Stars!”, not pretentious words like “revoir” or “reply” (at least it’s bilingual).
Also, what’s with the blue plastic? At first, I thought it was to cover the portraits from the construction dust, but now I think it’s more of an artistic choice since it’s been three months since the tunnel reopened, and fragments of plastic can still be found on most of the portraits. Maybe it’s to add to the absurdity of the whole thing, or maybe this is an environmental piece on plastic being just as horrific as these blurry tunnel people. Or maybe, someone got lazy.
If pedestrians are the ones to blame for ripping off the plastic too early, that sucks, but why don’t you take that as an opportunity to unveil the whole thing, instead of abandoning your work to the tunnel? The artist should have just ripped off the band-aid and the rest of the plastic.
What makes this even more spooky for me, is that I can’t find anything on the exhibit anywhere. No information about the artist, no news articles, nothing. It’s like these creepy, blurry, abandoned, lenticular portraits just emerged from the tunnel and fixed themselves on the walls.
The tunnel people, although truly horrifying, deserve to be displayed in all their splendour, without plastic getting in the way.