The World is Flat by Nasuna Stuart-Ulin


This is an optical illusion.

Years ago, I was given a book called Masters of Deception, a fascinating anthology of optical illusions which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to gain perspective… or lose perspective. Whatever your poison, just like everyone needs a good cry once in a while, so should they pour over that book.

In any case, I can’t look at this photo without being reminded of a mind-bending drawing by Jos de Mey, a Belgian artist, called Uit- en Inzichtraam voor Ars et Mathesisvrienden… whether it’s more befuddling to say or to see is up to you.

Some friends of mine were building their new house in Westmount in the adjacent lot to their current home, and asked me to photograph the foundation in an abstract way. I had a good window to do so during the construction holiday, so I scouted the location and came upon an angle that played tricks on the eyes. The rebar posts, sticking vertically out of the concrete, aligned themselves in such a way that it seemed to create a step in the plane.

The safest passage to the lot was through my friends’ backyard, so they had given me keys to their house while they were on holiday. I resolved to shoot later that week, just before dawn, when the light would be best.

I returned at two in the morning on the last day. The street was dark and quiet – the silence amplified since I had just come from Osheaga, which was anything but sleepy.

I’d arrived with plenty of time to set up and wait for morning. I thought about this as I jostled the spare keys and fiddled with the lock. It took me a while to open the door, but I finally got in and… the alarm starts beeping. Before I could say, “that’s funny, they didn’t mention an alarm”, I hear someone’s voice saying HEY, WHO’S THERE?! And fumbling on the stairs. In my head I said “oh shit” and out loud I said, “it’s Nasuna! It’s me! It’s just me!”

The cops were nearly called, and I had some (very) sheepish explaining to do… they had come back a day early and assumed I’d already shot the property.

… anyway if any of you dear readers would like me to photograph your house and/or break into it while you’re sleeping, you know where to find me.