Caia Diepenbrock


Humanity’s existence in this world depends entirely on our ability to perceive it. We move through reality by doing our best to understand it, and everyone’s interpretation is unique and always changing; that is what makes us individuals. 

Consciousness is a constantly flowing stream that both unites and divides us as a species; while it allows us to communicate through language, our personal experiences will always be subjective and distinct. Through the use of mirrors, shadows and light, this work investigates the boundary between reality and illusion by challenging the viewer’s ability to decipher between shadows and their drawn traces, 3D objects and 2D drawing, and displaced mirror reflections and their image/object counterparts.

In this work, the shadows represent our temporal existence in the same way that a memory may transform into something entirely different from “reality”. The presence of shadows depends entirely on the existence of their object-counterpart, just as a memory depends on events occurring. Once this object moves, the shadow is lost or changes, moves with it. Through the tracing of shadows of both found materials and sculptures, time is paused. That inherently passing moment is captured and turned into a being of its own, for without their tangible counterparts, these shadow drawings become elusive figures one may not realize were once shadows.

The mirrors help convey the inherent subjectivity of experiencing art by flexibly reflecting the varied imagery within the room based on the perspective the viewer is looking from. This creates a sense of atmospheric and visual flux, just as one’s thoughts and opinions change in regards to context and personal conditions; just as everything in the universe is constantly in flux. Exclusively black, grey, and white is used (with the exception of several gold accents) to focus on shape and texture and to convey an atmospheric feeling without approaching the psychological complexities of color. The installation is intended to be a neutral space in which the viewer can create his or her own meaning for the work through a voyeuristic encounter with themselves as both viewer and subject. The means is the end in this case, and vice versa; both the process and the viewer are equally as integral to the piece as the end result. The golden accents represent one’s individual consciousness within the universal consciousness that is created in (or created by) the matrix of a moment.

As a product of consideration of the viewer’s lens rather than merely that of the artist, this work is an investigation of self-consciousness and humanity’s relationship with the visual world.

The Fund for Visual Learning greatly assisted me in the completion of this project. I can thank them for almost 100 square feet of mirrors, the matte black and white paint that was integral to the wall drawings, and Plexiglas. The mirrors are what really pushed my project to its full potential, and that effect would not have been possible without the grant. I am beyond grateful that the department has begun this program to make art projects more feasible for students of all financial backgrounds.

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