Fractured Visions

Tamiko Thiel

An augmented reality installation on the fragility of human vision. Inspired by palinopsia, a rare visual disorder, these two site-specific installations question our perceptions of reality.


Disrupting the field of vision, they cause London’s tallest building The Shard, and 

neighboring buildings of King’s College Guy’s Campus, to seem to fracture and repeat. Architectural details of the surrounding buildings are layered and repeated on top of the actual structures, such that the viewer experiences the disorienting effects of this extreme condition in which the real is conflated with the virtual. As an artwork inspired by palinopsia, Fractured Visions provides viewers with a unique emotional and experiential perspective on how the world can look through different eyes.




Commissioned by the AXNS Collective in collaboration with psychiatrist and clinical lecturer Dr.Dominic ffytche of King's College London.


Dr. Dominic ffytche states:

"Working with Tamiko Thiel has helped crystalise what I and others working in the field know about palinopsia and, more importantly, what we do not know. Many of the questions posed by Tamiko at our first meeting did not have an immediate answer. How palinopsia relates to eye movements, for example, is central to our understanding of the phenomena but remains unknown. This realisation, that much of the key evidence required to understand palinopsia is missing, was an unexpected outcome of the collaboration and what I have taken away is a fresh outlook on palinopisa together with new ideas on how to progress research in this area."


Supported by grants from the Arts Council England, the Wellcome Trust and King's College London. "Fractured Visions: To See Again" premiered in September 2014 as part of the MERGE Festival. 


Tamiko Thiel

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Tamiko Thiel is a visual artist exploring the interplay of place, space, the body and cultural identity. She works in a variety of media ranging from supercomputers to digital prints and videos to interactive 3d virtual reality worlds and augmented reality.

She received her B.S. in 1979 from Stanford University in Product Design Engineering with a focus on human factors design, and worked as a product design engineer at Hewlett-Packard in Silicon Valley. She then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she studied human-machine design at the Biomechanics Lab and computer graphics at the precursors to the Media Lab. After receiving her M.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1983 she worked at Danny Hillis' MIT AI Lab start-up Thinking Machines Corporation as lead product designer on the Connection Machines CM-1/CM-2 supercomputers, now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Once the design phase was finished she moved to Germany to study studio art at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts, where she received a Diploma in Applied Graphics in 1991, specializing in video installation art. Since then she has worked as an artist in a variety of media.

I have been creating poetic spaces of memory for exploring social and cultural issues in both virtual reality art since 1994 and augmented reality art since 2010. My art practice covers a wide range of interests in society, culture and explorations of new technologies as expressive media. I often deal with crossing boundaries, drawing extensively on my own cross cultural experiences as an American of mixed German and Japanese descent living between Japan, the US and Germany. Images of the garden as a lost paradise haunt many of my works, with issues of global warming and climate change becoming an increasing concern.


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