A remarkable feature often noted of artist Fred Sandback’s string constructions: The geometrical forms he created with string have a strong planar feel. Phenomenologically, viewers perceive the spaces between the strings as planes with some substance. The illusion is amodally completed, as in the well-known Kanizsa triangle, by minimal prompts, but in three dimensions. Instead of creating an illusory figure, then, Sandback creates illusory planes. By noting how the constructions are like “impossible” figures, one can see how bottom-up and top-down effects combine to complicate the illusion, and the works become about the construction of space rather than its reification.

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