Above I am showing my reader a photo of an electrical box painted in trompe-l’oeil to look like a stone wall with a recess inside, and inside the painted recess is painted a stage. Below I am showing an electrical box painted as a fountain with a sign saying that its water is not potable. Both of them are to be found in the streets of Versailles, the first one at the South -East corner of the Boulevard of the Queen and the Avenue of Europe, and the second at the corner of the Avenue of Paris and Georges Clemenceau.
The story of trompe-l’oeil begins in Renaissance Italy. Its invention seems to be as inevitable as the idea of a movie character stepping out of the TV. The first creatures that traveled inside and outside picture were flies. The perspective created the illusion of depth; the trompe-l’oeil took it all back, calling our attention to the fact that the window into reality is created on a flat surface. With the trompe-l’oeil the window reflects off its surface, showing the presence of this world, the world of the viewer. Both the window and the mirror are illusions, but one has to do with the inside, while the other with the outside: The vanishing point points to representation, while the trompe-l’oeil refers to the author or the onlooker.
The irony of the second box is subtle; while mimicking a real fountain on Avenue de Sceaux, it also tells us not to mistake the picture in the menu for the real food, as it suggests not to drink the water of the painted fountain. Today while walking by the electrical boxes I was tempted to improve upon the second picture and repaint the trompe-l’oeil sign so that it would say that the water is potable, but then I figured my readers are too clever to fall for that.