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Three figures look towards a source emitting light in the distance. Light, smoke and shadows combine to create a surreal effect.
Eyes, Lies & Illusions


Eyes, Lies & Illusions

Nov 2 2006 - Feb 11 2007

Arranged in seven magical chapters, Eyes, Lies & Illusions explores the art and science of visual perception from the Renaissance to the present day. Developed from the groundbreaking exhibition held at the Hayward Gallery, London, the exhibition includes over 500 objects and images from the astonishing collection of German filmmaker Werner Nekes. The exhibition also features spectacular works by international and Australian contemporary artists who have been inspired by the spectacle of optical illusions.

  • Eyes, Lies & Illusions explores a pre-cinematic history in which art and entertainment, science and magic, technology and optical trickery are intertwined. The exhibition presents a dense 'archaeology' of the moving image, following ideas, devices and media from the Renaissance through to the present day.

    Clear-cut divisions between the rational world of science and the playful realm of entertainment have never been easily achieved. New technologies possess the aura of magic. Art is given new, more spectacular expressions in the wake of scientific discovery.

    Eyes, Lies & Illusions contains more than 500 historic objects, books, prints, instruments and optical ephemera drawn from the Werner Nekes Collection. This extraordinary collection began in the mid-sixties when Nekes, a German experimental filmmaker and professor, started collecting examples of optical phenomena as teaching aids. 

    The Nekes Collection has since grown to become one of the world's most important and encyclopaedic private collections of pre-cinematic media, housing more than 20,000 objects.

    The exhibition is interspersed with the works of 12 contemporary artists, each of whom is differently inspired by the imaginative power of visual illusion.