Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Aussie psychologist creates monsters

This is really weird stuff. And so it should be, because the Queensland psychologist Matthew Thomson has hit upon a way of transforming portraits of ordinary individuals into fleeting images of monsters.

Should we be surprised by the fact that this bright young Fullbright scholar happens to be an expert in criminal fingerprinting, who'll soon be comparing notes with the Los Angeles police and the FBI? No comment… except to suggest that it might have been nicer if Matthew's monsters had sprung into existence, say, in the course of an artistic career devoted to the production of ghost movies for Aussie kids. But psychologists are psychologists, and they need to earn their living in the most propitious manner.

Let's look at the monsters. You might click around in such a way as to fill up your entire screen with the following video. Then you should watch it at least twice.

• The first time, keep your eyes on the cross in the middle of the screen, and try to recollect your impressions of the kind of unrecognizable faces that are fleeting past you on both sides of the cross. You'll probably feel that these fleeting images are monstrous.

• The second time, verify calmly the look of the various portraits on the left and right of the cross. You'll be astonished to discover that they weren't really monsters at all…

Matthew's diabolical secret? The eyes have it. From one portrait to the next, the eyes remain exactly in the same position on your computer screen. And this is what gives the impression that the faces are being expanded, distended, stretched, compressed and distorted grotesquely around those lovely fixed eyes.

In real life, I have no reasons to believe that Matthew's not a nice guy. But I can't help imagining him as a distorted monster in a Queensland police uniform on a motor bike. In a nightmare, I see the Fullbright scholar pulling me over to the edge of a Gold Coast highway and informing me that I don't look like a normal law-abiding citizen.

EMPTY AFTERTHOUGHT: Jeez, it would be fucking lovely if Australian scholarship, particularly in a domain such as psychology, could move away forever from prisons and police, and our historical heritage as an end-of-the-boat-ride dump for the poor bastards who prevented English aristocracy from living perpetually in a land of fairytale princes and princesses. In the 18th and 19th centuries, long before the psychologist Matthew, vicious Poms had already invented the vision of ordinary folk as monsters.

1 comment:

  1. I let Matthew Thompson know that I'd mentioned him in my Antipodes blog, and I was happy to receive his reply:

    LOL---great stuff!
    Matt Thompson
    (sent from a mobile device)