The Art That is Hidden in Plain Sight

A Milan-based artistic duo uses color to reveal a series of dreamlike panoramas concealed in white light

Jeff Metal / Courtesy of Jaguarshoes Collective Jeff Metal / Courtesy of Jaguarshoes Collective
"The three filter colors are not supposed to work in the same way," says Carnovsky. "More than having different wavelengths, they have different meanings. The red filter makes one of the worlds emerge in a clear, sharp and obvious way, hiding the other two; for us it is like a wide awake state." Jeff Metal / Courtesy of Jaguarshoes Collective
The green layer is also relatively clear, here depicting verdant foliage. Carnovsky considers each animal, plant and object a "character in an immense narration." Jeff Metal / Courtesy of Jaguarshoes Collective
The blue filter is darker, more elusive: in La Selva, it reveals primates that gaze curiously, perhaps sinisterly, back at the viewer. "We like to think about [the blue layer] as the world that is deep inside, the one that is most related with the oneiric," says Carnovsky. "This is our favorite filter because this world emerges in a not so clear way, and people have to really concentrate, come closer, to perceive what is trying to come out, and it will never become so evident—maybe fortunately." Jeff Metal / Courtesy of Jaguarshoes Collective

Under white light, the mural is kaleidoscopic. But as a red, green or blue light passes over the image, a different scene emerges: exotic wild animals in red, a dense jungle in green, a monkey tribe in blue. Created by a duo of Milan-based artists known as Carnovsky, La Selva (“Jungle”) is part of their RGB project—installations that transform under color LED filters, exposing panoramas concealed in white light. The project, says Carnovsky, explores the idea that “what we see for the first time may hide other meanings.” The artists especially like to use huge copies of 18th- and 19th-century engravings to create overlapping scenery. During those periods, they say, people felt there was “still the chance to discover new worlds” and they drew wildlife images that exhibited “a subtle balance between the realistic and the fantastical.”