Pseudo Ambient

Sydney Schrader’s “Torus and The Cup Factory” at Gandt

February 23 – March 16, 2020

Tunnel vision is the loss of peripheral vision while retaining central perception. The loss of central vision while retaining peripheral vision is called central scotoma, aka blind spot. Torus (2020) consisted of a long line of back to back folding tables, the length of one Astoria block. Standing in front of them, they looked endless. Which was pretty cool, because Queens has that open horizon potential. I’d just never seen it so clearly.

A set of empty foldable tables are set up along the sidewalk. A woman stands next to them with her back to the camera.
Moving, the effect was different. The tables felt off to the side, at wrist level height, a surface with a known texture to half consciously drag your fingers on, or something your hip bumps into, as opposed to visual. They provided a texture and spatial structure to walking down the block, organized the physical boundaries of the viewer. The work reorganized focus, from visual to haptic/physical, stone to plastic. That shift is so significant that it created a blur in what would have been my frontal vision, an amorphous zone, where the street would usually be.

I’m describing my experience because it felt fully directed by the artist. My perception changed as my body moved in relation to the tables put there for that specific purpose in a kind of pseudo ambient setup. An empty space in art or thought is at high risk to be flooded with meaning, ideas, stuff. It’s kind of prime real estate. But I feel like that didn’t happen. The space just stayed blurry.