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Art installation explores the creepy side of escapology


Escapology is meant to be thrilling rather than unnerving, but an installation piece called EVASION by Dr. Michele Barker and Professor Anna Munster of the University of New South Wales does exactly that.

The piece shows edited clips of the usually funny magician and escape artist Ben Murphy in the middle of performing Harry Houdini’s famous straight jacket escape. Out of order, at different speeds and with no broader time-frame to contextualize them, the movements Murphy uses to escape the jacket look painful and spastic. By the time he gets the looped arms of the jacket over his head, it’s all gone a bit Silent Hill, and while the spooky horror movie music playing in the background is a little bit over the top, it certainly makes for a good effect.

The object in the opening seconds of the video is actually a customized praxinoscope that sat outside the space in which Evasion was installed back in 2014. 

You can see a second, two-panel iteration of EVASION that shows Murphy’s full escape from the jacket here.