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Vanishing act: Urban installations by Roeland Otten.

Photos: Bas Helbers.

The Dutch artist and designer Roeland Otten has taken it upon himself to intervene when he finds ugly street furniture such as supply boxes and service enclosures. His installations might be seen as camouflage or, as I prefer the Star Trek explanation, “cloaking devices”.

The peculiar thing is that these installations actually draw attention to the object being masked, although they cause them to … disappear!

Roeland Otten is actually working in a rich artistic tradition that can certainly be traced back to Hans Holbein the Younger's painting The Ambassadors from 1533 which shows an image of a distorted skull that appears normal again when viewed from a particular point to the side. Playing with perspective in this way has been explored by a number of artists since.

It is worth pondering the larger scale urban implications, if the artist could find a way to make entire buildings or even towns disappear.

Composing a short-list for candidates, promises to be a lot of fun.

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