Designers Laetitia de Allegri and Matteo Fogale have collaborated with Johnson Tiles to create Mise-en-abyme, a colourful and immersive installation for the bridge over the Medieval and Renaissance galleries in the V&A.
Fascinated by the discovery of one-point perspective during the Renaissance period, the duo have created a landscape of overlapping semi-transparent shapes that plays with the viewers sense of perspective. The title of the work is a French term that literally translates as “placed into abyss”, and refers to the experience of walking through the installation.
The grout lines of the tiles lining the bridge represent the perspective grid lines found on Renaissance drawings, creating an illusion of exaggerated depth that draws the viewer into the work. Each tile features a custom pattern of gradating colour that makes the landscape across the bridge appear to open outward or to close inward, depending on the visitor’s point of view.
Contrasting with the pale interiors of the surrounding galleries and the creamy marble sculptures within them, the designers have created an explosion of coloured acrylic panels layered across the length of the bridge. These bright semi-transparent panels also reference the V&A’s colourful glass and stained glass collections displayed in nearby galleries. As visitors move across the bridge, they pass through increasingly small openings in these panels, a literal interpretation of perspective translated to three-dimensional space that offers an immersive experience.
“We wanted to create an abstract installation with a strong visual effect that is light and floating, in contrast to the heavy marble surroundings in these galleries,” say the designers. “Mise-en-abyme is not just something to look at. It is something to experience.”