Installation and video piece for Ways of Seeing.

Installation piece for 'Ways of Seeing' project

I have been working across a number of mediums to explore this project. I had created an installation piece for my previous project and I felt comfortable with working in that medium. As my project was concerned with visual information I was naturally drawn to using video and I was looking at a number of artists that were using the medium extremely creatively. A lot of experimental film produced by artists such as Jeff Keen, Stan Brakhage & Paul Sharits was produced using film stock that was manipulated at source in order to create a much closer relationship to the corporeal fleshy reality of the eye. The works of these artists are deeply abstract and they emerge from a very strong grounding these artists had in film studies.

My video was developed digitally and consists of lettering that was produced separately in Adobe Illustrator together with 3 graphic symbols that I used as representative of firstly Greek architecture, secondly a symbol of electrical energy and finally an abstract shape. The video was projected onto the back of the circuit board as shown in the main picture. The letters in the video are 'Sloan' letters of which there are ten C, D, H, K, N, O, R, S, V and Z. These letters are used in visual acuity testing based upon the system develop by Louis Sloan in 1959. This lettering system and typeface is recommended to be more accurate than the standard Snellen chart which is standard for testing vision. The video loops endlessly but because it is extremely difficult to establish any recognisable point within it one never gets the sense that it is looping but it acts more like the on off nature of electrical transmission which is akin to neurons firing repeatedly.

The installation central point is the television that has been disassembled. This was a visual device that has been turned front to back and its disinterred structure is designed to represent the mechanical process of the eye and the process of vision. The television is very old which is indicative of disease and decay and the screen is empty. Above the screen is a blank black screen made of photographic gel. This is meant to further emphasise the idea of non seeing and places attention beyond the sculptural centre.

The circuit board acts as a screen for internal memory and the projection represents memory of sight or rather what one might remember of seeing after sight has faded and the organ of sight the eye is lost or damaged. The constant flashing of the letters and distortion of the symbols represent a last memory of sight before eventual disease takes the eye into complete blackness. I thought using symbols that could span from early Greek architecture to current ideas of visual abstraction via another symbol to ultimately electrical energy in some way could represent the sense of held knowledge from sight that one acquired before disease.

The piece is a very literal interpretation of the project brief and it looks directly at sight loss and visual impairment. I think in situ the piece works as an installation idea and the unusual projection of the video onto the circuit board rather than onto traditional surfaces reinforces the idea of memory or how states of visual memory appear to exist in an unknown pace between consciousness and sub consciousness. The DVD player acts as a metaphorical memory bank where acquired images are stored before the projector transfers as memory across space to appear as electrical signals which become vision as the memories do in our mind.

Thus disease of the optic corporeal eye deprives frontal vision but it doesn't take away visual memory of what has already been stored. My vision is distorted in the present but my memories of my life appear very clear and distortion free and I think it was this strange process of seeing clearly via memory rather than now through the damaged eyes that led me to create a visual model of that by way of this installation piece.

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