marta pienkosz, creative coder & designer

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Hidden Third

Read the thesis paper︎︎︎
At the heart of the ‘Hidden Third’ lies a single thread—a cotton gauze cloth—that takes on an array of forms: scanned, suspended, projected upon, printed through, and superimposed. These transformations alter the very essence of the fabric, blurring the lines between reality and representation, authenticity and illusion, the real and the artificial. Transcending beyond the mere material transformation, the installation prompts the viewer to reflect on the multidimensionality of identity and perception— how many versions of selves may exist within and beyond our immediate realities?

Part of the IM Thesis showcase at the Project Space in April 2024


This project was influenced by thinkers like Frank Rose, Oliver Grau, and Basarab Nicolescu, who explored the multidimensionality of perception. Nicolescu's concept of the Hidden Third challenging binary views of self and environment, inspired deep reflections on how new technologies affect our immersion and reality perception. This hidden dimension, according to Nicolescu, represents a deeper level of reality accessible through transdisciplinary and non-binary thinking, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the world and ourselves.

Several artists also explored the profound impact of perception on self's relationship with the surrounding world. Joseph Kosuth's One and Three Chairs (1965) challenges representation boundaries, suggesting a multifaceted reality shaped by diverse interpretations. Olafur Eliasson's immersive environments alter viewers' perceptions of fundamental qualities like space, light, and color, highlighting the observer's integral role in the art experience. Jesús Rafael Soto's work delves into interconnectedness, not isolated entities, creating a shifted perspective where the individual and the world have been absorbed by one another.

Kosuth One and Three Chairs (1965)

Eliasson Beauty (1997)

Soto Penetrables (1967)

Creative Outcome

Hidden Third draws inspiration from the material quality and the deliberate use of spatial dimensions evident in the works of Elliason and Soto. It transcends the confines of two-dimensional planes, as seen in Kosuth's work, immersing viewers within an installation. The placement of viewers within the artwork's core prompts them to shift their vantage points, thereby altering their reading and perspective of the works. 


I used Cache Select TOP in Touchdesigner for Projection. This way, the camera image only appeared when there was movement in the space. I then masked this image onto a particle system, resulting in a visual effect where the image resembled floating points akin to shadows.

For Elongation, I scanned fabric arranged randomly and applied vertical pixel displacement. This technique portrayed a narrative of gradual fading, emphasizing the ephemeral nature of existence.

In Dethreading, I deconstructed the fabric into individual threads, symbolizing impermanence.

With Re-printing, I reprinted the fabric texture with ink on paper, effectively creating an absence of the original material.

Finally, in Superimposition, I covered wooden boxes with fabric, incorporating texts that delve into perception and reality. This aspect reflects on the texts studied specifically for this installation.


The central projection activates upon entry, revealing how reality responds to our active observation. Only those aware of their presence notice this responsiveness, underscoring the role of self-consciousness. This selective discovery adds depth for engaged viewers, echoing the philosophical question: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" The activation of the projection relies on the observer's presence, mirroring how art's existence depends on a witness, indicating its manifestation hinges on perception. Additionally, other artworks in the installation explore transience, prompting reflection on existence: does one exist objectively or only in perception?

Future Iterations

I see this project as just the beginning of my artistic exploration. Embracing the questions I've grappled with and seeing them come to life in the art has been rewarding. I believe there's much more to uncover and look forward to how this shapes my practice.

Hidden Third is a gateway to perpetual discovery, reflecting the dynamic nature of reality. It delves into what comprises reality, one's place within it, and the role of perception. I hope it becomes a journey of self-discovery and an enduring invitation to explore the human experience.