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The Kaleidoscopic Visions of Annie Briard’s ‘Paracosms’

In her photography series ‘Paracosms,’ Annie Briard reveals half-hidden worlds.

In Annie Briard’s Paracosms, the artist explores the uncertain nature of vision with a photography series that’s full of refracted light.

Everyday scenery (apartment buildings, a lake in a valley) is obscured by vivid flashes of color using a unique photography technique. The harsh reds and blues of the shadows in Briard’s images can feel like looking through malfunctioning 3D goggles—or maybe a spectacular ocular migraine or a weird hallucinogen trip. Briard’s half-hidden worlds remind us how unreliable vision can be, mediated perhaps just as much by the brain’s perceptions as it is by the actual external world.

“In the not so very distant past, there was a beautifully poetic vision theory that proclaimed the eye to contain a small crystal,” Briard says of the inspiration behind Paracosms, adding, “Much is still left to our imagination when determining whether what we see is actually there.”

A paracosm is a very detailed imaginary world, often created by an inventive child. Though a paracosm exists only in the mind of its creator, it might incorporate elements of the real world, mapping an imagined geography onto actual places. In Briard’s Paracosms, the artist draws our attention to just how easily vision can be distorted and changed, until we’re unsure of what the world around us actually looks like.

See more of Annie Briard’s work at her online portfolio.

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