Harley is a visual artist who blends his artistic talent with his interest in contemporary art, material culture, and trans studies. As part of his Ph.D. in the Cultural, Social, and Political Thought program, Harley is interested in exploring affect theory and the ways visual artists have used lenticular images to picture time and transition.

What are lenticular images? While you may not know the name, you’ve likely encountered lenticulars before on the covers of books, music albums, or movies. They’re physical pictures whose images seem to move when you shift perspective. Harley describes them as “retro, analog animated gifs.”

So, what do lenticulars have to do with affect theory?

Harley’s current research is informed by poststructuralist and queer theories of affect. Traditionally, knowledge is seen as something gained via objective distancing, of separating oneself from the object of your study so as not to be influenced by it. Theories of affect, on the other hand, emphasize that we both affect and are affected by that which we try to know. The relationship between knower and known is reciprocal, not one-way.

Harley wants to understand “what is possible to convey with lenticular images.” Visual art pieces are typically experienced by standing in one spot and looking at the piece. A lenticular art piece is experienced both visually and temporally as you move from one perspective to another, seeing the image change as you move. Lenticulars present images that transform, that are affected by your change in perspective, which in turn affects what you see in the image.

What sort of knowledge can arise from that experience?

Harley believes that lenticulars offer unique and interesting avenues of communication for communities and their artists. “Artworks have lasting effects on communities and discourse. At stake here are new ways of communicating visually that address contemporary, local conditions and might move audiences toward more connected understandings of interactions between site, self, and community.”

Harley has over fifteen years of experience as a visual artist, and his work has featured art exhibitions around Canada, including: the Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Lethbridge), Artspace (Peterborough), and Galerie Sans Nom (Moncton).