Rudi Knoops: Cylindrical Anamorphosis. Thaumaturgical Origins and Contemporary Workings.

Doctoral Project

Rudi Knoops, PhD in the Arts

The approach in both my arts practice and my PhD research is inspired by media archaeology: look in the rear-view mirror, gauge the affordances of an older and maybe analogue media technology, and explore how it can re-inject curiosity and wonder into our relationship with the techno aesthetics of contemporary society.
Cylindrical anamorphosis is one such seemingly obsolete visual media technology. It has its origins in a seventeenth century Baroque context of artificial magic: a distorted image can be observed in its reconstituted form through reflection in a cylindrical mirror. The analogue cylindrical mirror has the strange pre-digital processual power to generate images based on the position of the observer. In our media-saturated world where digital processual images are becoming standard, cylindrical anamorphosis uses its own analogue processual power and re-injects its wild analogue magic back into the twenty-first century digital media apparatus. However, by using moving images that are digitally manipulated, cylindrical anamorphosis is contaminated by the present, and becomes a hybrid contemporary version of artificial magic.
The appropriation of cylindrical anamorphosis is the central research topic in my practice-based PhD. A series of appropriations enables—or even demands—cross-links to other art disciplines such as music and dance, and a media archaeology inspired methodology of short-circuiting past and present can fashion new and imaginary media forms that may provide new insights into how we engage with media, and how media define us as human beings.


  • Prof. dr. Wilhelmus Hesling (supervisor, KU Leuven)
  • Prof. dr. Kurt Vanhoutte (supervisor, University of Antwerp)
  • Prof. dr. Bart Geerts (co-supervisor, KU Leuven/LUCA)

Research Group: Inter-Actions

Duration: 2010 - 2017