Markus Wilfling

-3m Brett, 2004 [-3 meter board]

A springboard that is not placed on top of a swimming pool, but instead sunk into a pool without water, appears as a mirror-image. Surprisingly, this offers the same perspective as if seeing the board from below. Op Art makes use of similar spontaneous re-organisational patterns of perception. In this context, human vision is conceived as an active process of perception. Meanwhile, the brain attempts to interpret the receptors’ activation and to make sense of it. However, the processes of organising perception are in constant conflict and seem to thwart any attempt to find a clear solution.


For a long time, the visual arts were concerned with illustrating. Modern Art was the first to consciously look into this issue. An analytical viewpoint was required to counter such illusory manoeuvres critically. It was recognised that a reliable depiction of reality cannot be made. We all carry our own reality around inside us, and have different starting points for possibilities of perception.

Markus Wilfling deals with this theme in great detail in his artwork. As a member of a younger generation of artists looking into the concept of sculpture, he demonstrates, with simple as well as intense means, how easily we can “misunderstand” what we see. He shows that physical laws of nature, which are understood in a literal sense, often generate intriguing modifications to perception.


An example of this is Wilfling’s “3m board”. A springboard is placed not in front of a swimming pool but is rather laterally reversed, sunk into a pool sketched out in blue. Surprisingly, we receive the same perspective as if the board were viewed from below. The three-dimensional arrangement becomes a picture puzzle; a picture which, thanks to its special construction, conveys different pictorial contents depending on the line of sight. A multi-stable perception appears to the viewer, whereby the perception organisation clashes thanks to contradictory optical stimuli, and the brain attempts to interpret the activation of the receptors so that it makes sense.


One comes across similar, spontaneous reorganisations of perception in Op-Art, where human vision is recognised as a procedure of senses. With this piece, Markus Wilfling has transported a two-dimensional experience into three-dimensions. At the same time, he creates an illusory reality which does not exist.

Author: Günther Holler-Schuster 
Plan & Overview: Position 55
Owner: [property of the Private Foundation Austrian Sculpture Park]
Biography: Markus Wilfling  

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