Werner ReitererThe Transported Man
Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, USA
Inspired by a magic trick described in Christopher Priest’s 1995 novel The Prestige, The Transported Man exemplifies the three phases of a magic trick, wherein a magician appears onstage (the Pledge), disappears through a door (the Turn), and reappears immediately through another door (the Prestige). But how can a magic trick help us understand an artwork? The spectator of a magic trick wonders what happened in the ineffable moment when a magician disappears and reappears at the other side of the stage, in the same way a viewer might wonder what happened when a piece of soap, a mirror, or a shoe reappears as a sculpture.
To be efficient, a magic trick, like many other illusions, relies on a system of belief cultivated between the magician and his or her audience. The wider the gap between what the audience sees and what it is asked to believe, the more efficient and spectacular the trick can be. A good trick works only if the spectator can navigate between these two poles—between the feeling of witnessing pure magic and the impression of seeing an ordinary scene. If the spectator decides to consider only one of the poles (a simple fact or pure magic), the trick won’t work. The belief they attribute to what they see acts like a cursor in a field implemented not by category but by intensity, wherein an object can be transported between various states of presence while gaining the power of embodying multiple identities.
The Transported Man is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Marc-Olivier Wahler, Director. Support for this exhibition is provided by the MSU Federal Credit Union, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Audemars Piguet, the Eli and Edythe Broad Endowed Exhibition Fund, and the MSU Broad’s general exhibitions fund.