Melvin Moti
Cluster Illusion

Cluster Illusion examines the brain’s tendency to recognize a pattern as something abstract. Rather than seeing the distinct dots of which the images are composed, our brains turn these dots into illusory clouds. This series is a study of human vision and a commentary on the human urge to find shapes and patterns in anything, giving coherence to the whole. Thus, the relationship between the part and the whole, in other words, between the local and the global, and between nature and culture is on display in Cluster Illusion.

This work can also be read as a representation of the debate on climate change and the anthropocene, whereby human impact on nature is either an illusion or a scientific fact. Here we note that the work depicts sunlight shining through clouds, which appears almost photographic. However, one can also see how each image is composed of a meticulous Japanese pattern. Combining ancient traditions and modern techniques, this work also blends the historic with the contemporary. The smooth character of silk draws the viewer close to the surface, a surface that is rather optical and tactile, so that one can observe how almost photographic images turn into abstract patterns. Each silk piece (123.00 x 173.00cm) is handmade by a Tokyo-based kimono dyer, following the traditional kimono technique.

Scientific research, high and mass culture, and the processes of cultural production in contemporary society plays an important role in the work of Rotterdam-born artist Melvin Moti, currently based in Rotterdam and in Berlin. The artist whose practice traverses films, books, objects and drawing, enquires into the power of human imagination and abstraction, looking at how perception works neurologically and psychologically. His earlier works include a guided tour in the empty rooms of the Hermitage through memory (No Show, 2004), the human ability to make images appear on the retina from total darkness (The Prisoner’s Cinema, 2008) or the representation of the fourth dimension (The Eightfold Dot, 2013). The artist gives form to obscure anecdotes, incidents, and individuals — or, what he calls black holes — that he claims haven’t been contextualized by official history. Concerned with history and its influence in cultural production, Moti researched the Cosmists, an early twentieth century Russian group of thinkers responsible for Cosmism, the philosophical and cultural movement that combined occult and esoteric theories with space science. By comparing statistics, scientist and member of the Cosmists, Alexander Chizhevsky, discovered a correlation between solar activity (such as sunspots) and major historical events on earth (such as wars, revolutions, epidemics and natural disasters). In several studies Chizhevsky describes how one can observe an increase in wars, revolutions, and in epidemics on earth during years of high amounts of solar activity, while years with a low amount of solar activity correspond to a decrease of military and political events on earth. Chizevsky called this observed synchrony “historiometry”. While studying this history, Moti produced two works in 2015, a film Cosmism and a series of silk works, Cluster Illusion.