Seeing with Eyes Closed, 2011
Wooden construction, polystyrene panels, white LED-lights, micro-controller, pillow
122 x 60 x 110 cm
Frequency range of flickering lights: 12 – 50 Hz. Each flash duration 6 mins. Duration of the sequence: 3 mins 18 secs
Installation views: Seeing with Eyes Closed, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice. Artist's studio, Berlin
The immeasurable realm of subjective reality, Deutsche Gugennheim, Berlin, 2012
Photographs courtesy of Deutsche Gugennheim, Institut fur Raumexperimente, AoN: platform for Art and Neuroscience
Visitors are invited to sit on the floor in front of a semi-circular object that holds a screen of numerous LED lights, and close their eyes. They are exposed to flashing light of different frequencies, which gives rise to a visual experience of flowing images with eyes closed; spiders, a flight above the Earth, a city scene, stripes, squares and lines of intense colors dancing in the space, spirals, or something entirely different. These images might be a reminiscence of something long forgotten.
The installation concerns the visual experience of quasi-hallucinatory flowing images, induced by stroboscopic light behind closed eyes. It consists of LED lights that are programmed to flicker simultaneously, at a frequency between 12 and 50 hertz and for an entire duration of 3 minutes and 18 seconds. Each flash of light lasts for 6 milliseconds, and the dark pauses vary in duration.
Being aware that the images seen have no foundation in external reality, one experiences them as hallucinatory. This ‘conscious quasi-hallucinating’ challenges our sense of the real in its alternation and its permeability with the imaginary. Each person’s experience is different while ascribing different dimensions to the perceived space, in constant transformation. Communicating the content of this ephemeral flux of unpredictable percepts extremely stretches the limits of acquiring a subjective report, and challenges the scientific aspiration to precisely measure the timing of conscious phenomena. With the unpredictability of visual responses to the light stimuli, participation in the art installation raises the question of subjectivity and authorship. The final “work” happens in our body and depends on our experience as well as on the boundary between the public and the intimate space.