Blindsight

In collaboration with David Mesiha and Sonic Canvas 

2019

Blindsight is the medical term for our ability to subconsciously recognize visual information. In an attempt to capture the attention of a public inundated with visual stimulation, I’ve developed a story-telling platform based on this phenomenon. It requires participants to close their eyes, taking the story in only through sound and through light projected onto their closed eyelids. This reduced sensory experience relies heavily on the mind's ability to craft complex narrative from simple cues and suggestions. The process of closing one’s eyes in the company of strangers heightens the remaining senses, rendering a participant more aware and more attuned to the present moment.

Each experience that I recreate is based on a real memory or historical account from an individual's life. I'm interested in how the processing of information changes when a viewer is placed into a first person perspective, no longer observing from the safety of objectivity, and suddenly unable to rely on sight.

Documentation of Blindsight at The Growlery, San Francisco, 2019

Ogden's photographs from his deployment to Afghanistan.

This immersive installation is based on the experience of Joel Ogden, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne division, who served in Afghanistan. It recounts his traumatic memory of a nighttime Taliban ambush during the time of the search for Osama bin Laden. The viewer is placed in the veteran's memory, as in a flashback or a waking dream.

While many of us question the purpose and ethical reasoning behind the United States's prolonged involvement in Afghanistan, Ogden, and many other veterans like him suffering from PTSD, truly struggle to come to terms with their service and sacrifices in the name of "freedom and democracy." The presentation of the piece calls to mind EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), a psychotherapeutic technique often used to diminish the effect of PTSD by restructuring the way a memory is processed. In this way, his memory's re-enactment through my platform symbolizes a beginning to the process of healing.

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