Duck, Ducking

Here is a mysterious object:Half Duck

Some kind of abstract sculpture, perhaps?  Or is it a ghost or an alien or a member of the Ku Klux Klan carrying scrolls?  Or are those sausages, perhaps, or maybe cat-tails?

Cat-tails they are.  For if I place this shaker beside its partner, all is revealed:

Two Ducks

Those are in fact, cat-tails, or some similar sort of reed, and they are the backdrop for a depiction of a duck–a duck in the process of dipping its head underwater.  The presence of one mostly whole, and more or less wholly visible, duck makes it clear that the other, formerly abstract object is to be interpreted as another, albeit not quite so visible duck.

And interpreting the half-duck as in fact part of a duck means that this set performs the same visual trick as the Bluenose schooner I discussed in my last post.  By implying that more of it exists below what can in fact be seen, it transforms the surface it sits on into the top of a body of water, with the illusion of depth beneath it.  In this case, the illusion is somewhat qualified by the sculptor’s decision to actually include a layer of blue water around the ducks for them to sit in and on.  But it is still a satisfying illusion, an intriguing way of making a hard surface seem to be penetrable simply by placing the right sort of object on top of it.

Published by pernodel

Children’s literature critic and author of books for children

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