It is a universal truth that kids love 3-D glasses. Like holograms, smelly stickers and View-Masters, the red and blue paper versions pulled back a layer of the world that was otherwise invisible.
The artists who use this vintage tech in the exhibit “Red Left Blue Right” now at Grayduck Gallery pull that sense of wonder back into their adult art and the effect of walking in the gallery and putting on the glasses is pretty trippy.
If it’s more trompe l’oeil than a third layer of depth, make no mistake: More than a few of the works in “Red Left Blue Right” exist in several dimensions.
Dan Forbes superimposes fashion photographs over a second image. Close one eye, you’ll see the model; squint the other and it’s a flower — or a skull. Look with both and it’s something altogether different — a distorted amalgam of them both.
“One side of your mind is telling you it’s red, the other side is telling you it’s blue — and they’re not mixing,” says Phillip Niemeyer, the show’s co-curator. “It’s not purple.”
It just short of shimmers. It’s what he calls “hot violet.” “It isn’t a real color at all,” Niemeyer says.
Other artists made art that pops out to greet you. Tanya Newton-John makes animal, floral, insect cornucopias that might be the most fun in the show, with bees, bears, lilies and leaves stacked in different layers that move as you move.
“That’s very difficult to do,” Niemeyer says. “I love how perfect and glossy it is.”
As Niemeyer points out, what we call 3-D is known as “anaglyph” 3-D. It’s technology that’s been around for about a century, but it will always hold surprises for our brain.
“Red-blue sounds catchier, but we’re using red-cyan,” he says.
That specific color is vital, because if the paint doesn’t match the glasses, it won’t code the art correctly for your brain.
Austin’s Shawn Camp has several works that play with color and movement, paintings that trick the colored squares to dance above the foreground. Intriguingly, most of the work is compelling without the glasses. Dana McClure’s series, “Red Meets Blue,” blends lyrical strips of red, pinks and blues on calligraphy paper.
Others are more unsettling — but only with the glasses.
Not to be outdone, the show also has a record. Yes, an actual vinyl album for sale, called “Double Mono,” recorded just for this show. It plays in the gallery as you enter, with tracks from Spoon’s Jim Eno, !!! and Octopus Project, which also follow the left-right theme.
Each band recorded separate tracks into the left and right channels — turn the balance left and you’ll hear a track that runs completely independent. Turn it to the right, and you’ll hear the other half, the aural equivalent of 3-D glasses.
The show has a heavy New York contingent, a healthy cross-pollination, thanks to Niemeyer, a graphic designer who lives in Austin but maintains an office in New York. He originally brought many of these artists together for a show in Brooklyn, and at Grayduck, the Austin contingent includes Camp, Joseph Phillips and Rebecca Rothfus.
“Red Left, Blue Right”
When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays through June 16
Where: Grayduck Gallery, 608 W. Monroe St.