CHArt TWENTY-FOURTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
Seeing…Vision and Perception in a Digital Culture
Rune Peitersen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
A presentation of ‘Saccadic Sightings’, reflections on the process of working with a MobileEye and on the difficulty of visualising sensory experience
Saccadic Sightings takes its outset in the saccadic movements of the eyes. These involuntary and unconscious movements are essential to our visual system but seem to contradict the stable and smooth view of the world as we perceive it. In this project I want to capture the ‘raw’ visual input as received by the eyes, to see whether it is possible to recreate the visual experience of a person. Is it possible to see what someone else sees?
Since mid-April I have had a MobileEye at my disposal. This is a tether-less eye-tracking device which has enabled me to capture my point-of-gaze onto a scene-video. In effect, I have been able to film using my eye as a camera! This delivers somewhat unpredictable footage as the movements of the eye (saccades) are very jagged and quick whilst at the same time extremely precise in their focus. The footage is very intimate, and the filming process has been very revelatory and confronting. Being unable to hide or mask one’s exact point of gaze is an experience which removes the final layer between one’s private self and the surroundings. So many seemingly insignificant flicks of the eye reveal themselves as being extremely accurate, often completely unconscious scans of surroundings, objects or persons.
After several MobileEye sessions, I started to become acutely aware of the act of seeing. When reviewing footage from the first sessions, I would be amazed at how my perception or recollection of what I had seen differed from the images caught on tape, and in subsequent sessions I would incorporate this knowledge, thus creating a sort of feedback mechanism. After a while I realised that I was consciously ‘seeing in low-resolution’ when filming, in order to accommodate the camera’s small lens. I tried to direct my gaze at larger, easily discernable objects and to avoid looking at too distant objects, which I knew wouldn’t be visible in the final footage. The everyday act of ‘zooming’ or focusing on a specific object and blocking out all else thereby became very present in its absence.
The final work will consist of a 10-15 min. video and/or a 7 channel video installation, made up by minimalistic, fragmented visual narratives, mirroring the process of the brain (viewer) ordering/sorting/creating a coherent visual experience out of apparently incoherent visual input (processed MobileEye footage). This could be presented at the conference as part of the presentation or as a stand-alone piece.
Collaborations and sponsors:
http://www.artsgenomics.org/ - The Arts and Genomics Centre, University of Leiden, Leiden, NL
http://www.s-oliver-associates.com/ - Stephen Oliver Associates, London, GB
http://www.a-s-l.com/ - Applied Science Laboratories, Bedford MA, USA
http://www.eyetracker.co.uk/ - Eyetracker, London, GB
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