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MOCA Jacksonville Delights With Trippy 'Smoke And Mirrors' Show

Good art can challenge our perceptions about the world.

A new exhibit at Jacksonville’s Museum of Contemporary Art does that in very unsubtle ways—for one, it appears a wall of the museum has been knocked out and replaced with a railway tunnel.

MOCA’s new show it titled “Smoke and Mirrors.”

Artist Ken Matsubara’s Round Chair installation looks, at first glance, to be a handful of wooden barstools, each with a glass full of water sitting on the seat. But look inside a glass, and you see an object appear to fall and shatter at the bottom. One glass even has a woman swimming in it.

Visitors at Friday’s opening of “Smoke and Mirrors” looked below the stool and around the room for the source of the image. MOCA tour coordinator Jackie Gallagher says, good luck finding it.

Gallagher says, “Normally, you can [say], ‘OK, I see the projector,’ but these you can’t, which really helps with that idea of ‘Smoke and Mirrors,’ of illusion, and our security team works really hard to make sure that secret stays intact.”

Secret forces seem to be at work in every piece in the show. In one, by Korean-American artist Chul Hyun Ahn, ingeniously placed mirrors create what looks like a never-ending tunnel into the gallery floor.

Another by Israeli-born Daniel Rozin, called “Penguins Mirror,” isn’t a mirror at all. It’s 450 stuffed animal penguins, who copy the movements of nearby viewers.">"Penguins Mirror" (2015) by Daniel Rozin from">bitforms gallery on Vimeo.

Another piece creates the illusion of rain under a lamppost. And another appears to be a series of tiny portals to another world, seen through eyeball-sized holes in a wall.

MOCA’s third floor will be transformed by “Smoke and Mirrors” through the end of January.

Jessica Palombo supervises local news gathering and production, podcasts and web editorial content for WJCT News, ADAPT and Jacksonville Today. She is an award-winning writer and journalist with bylines including NPR, Experience Magazine, and The Gainesville Sun. She has a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Syracuse University and is an alumna of the University of Florida. A nearly lifelong resident of Jacksonville, she considers herself lucky to be raising her own children in her hometown. Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JaxJessicaP