2006. Gustav Hellberg. PULSING PATH: AMBIGUOUS VISION (published text: newspaper)


Controlling the street-lamps along a street or lane means the light takes on a pulsing effect. The light is dimmed in a slow sequence, slowly disappearing and reappearing in an ongoing cycle.

The oscillating light of the lamp-posts in Pulsing Path – ambiguous vision activates a park lane and gives it a behaviour separating it from ‘normal’ lanes. Its expression is transformed and becomes displaced, thus raising questions about states of normality, and the uncertainty surrounding human existence.

 Man tries to master the world by structuring it. Societies are created through various power structures, which are never, however, either complete or solid. Because the characteristics of every individual creating a society differ, imperfection becomes the (disregarded) nature of these imposed social structures. The inertia of change, combined with ongoing human life-cycles and developments in society, makes it difficult to trace its course or even to be aware of it. Pulsing Path – ambiguous vision deals with awareness of our environment, our perception of this environment, and the memory of its appearance. A lighted street may not be what you perceive it to be on first sight. Are we always sure where a path is leading? Is seeing an object evidence of its existence?



 The project Pulsing Path - ambiguous vision operates by changing an everyday situation, with a focus on vision. It plays with reality as we are accustomed to seeing it. Vision can be defined simply as what we take in with our eyes: the physical phenomenon that occurs when light is transformed, through seeing, into comprehensible mental images. But vision can also be what is ‘seen’ with our imagination: that is, an immaterial and completely abstract occurrence. And this can lead to new ways of thinking and planning for the future; in this way vision becomes a lingual element.

Once clear thoughts blur and assumed descriptions are thrown into doubt, our already complex world becomes more so. Yet because this is the world in which we must function day-to-day, we must necessarily simplify it in order to make sense of it. We are able to choose which fraction of our ‘world factors’ to use and which to leave out; many are left out because they have not been registered by our minds, or have simply been forgotten. Most of this reality is abstract and locked in our minds as thoughts or images. Some of these become realised as societal constructions or  political agendas, deriving from the diffuse images in our minds – or the ambiguous visions.

The images we have of our surroundings are an intricate mixture of images we see directly and those stored in our memory.  It is not a matter of course that the two correspond: some of our mental images are able to be modified, perhaps being built up into a picture of how we would prefer our surroundings to look, or alternatively distorted images of how we don’t want them to be. Different people see different things; depending on what is registered by the individual, the same thing can be seen in a multitude of ways. Thus following a path, and seeing a clear direction, can become something uncertain. Manipulated by the Pulsing Path - ambiguous vision project, a path normally lit by street lamps slides out of visual focus and then returns as brightly as ever, just like the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Your mind begins to query what it knows as ‘normality’: what if light assumed to be there suddenly disappears, or if that light, instead of illuminating, creates a visual effect that tricks your mind and conjures up different visions?

In this way, the Pulsing Path project radically alters an ordinary situation. As the light dims and temporarily disappears, our usual apprehension of an environment also slides away. One question is raised: does the lack of light create doubt and fear, or does it free our dulled perceptions by changing a norm or an assumed condition?