Objects Do Things, Centre of Contemporary Art, Warsaw, Poland until 31st July 2016
New Large Scale Work (Under Development), Every Thought There Ever Was
'Every Thought There Ever Was' is a filmic installation involving three moving screens that explores the phenomenon of consciousness. It evokes the miraculous complexity of this mysterious feature of our existence, suggesting its mutability, its uncertainty and fragmentary qualities. It is to be staged in a constructed space. The circular screens take on aspects of both 'normal' and hallucinatory conscious experience; they are robotically controlled, tilting to receive and reject imagery, patterns and colours. The structure and nature of the imagery that they carry is related to the flow and system of brain functioning, roving across time and shifting subjective states.
Seers is developing a form of editing sound, image, light and environment that relates to the neurological analysis of psychosis/schizophrenia – in which evidence shows that potentially the hierarchy of attention thought becomes fragmented and excessively differentiated rather than integrated. In this particular state (in psychosis) narrative no longer forms a unifying function. Although consciousness may seem to be a unified field neuroscience points to the fact that the reality may be quite different (i.e that it is infact highly fragemented). The coming together and breaking apart of conscious perceptions of the world and the self is a recurring motif for Seers' artwork. The piece will reflect these shifting, fluctuating nature of our perceptions of reality.
The capacity of even the healthy mind to take as real filmic/digital images raises questions about the power of virtual reality. How do we process and interpret what is spatially and temporally real and does this significantly differ from our register of the digital? How does this affect our actions, perceptions and beliefs? Is everything equivalent in perception, given that real space/time is always overlaid with imagined images from our own past experiences?
The work also draws on a number of collaborations. At the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, Professor Anil Seth examines the effect of exposure to virtual reality on our sense of self, our perception of our body and our experience of subjective 'reality'. Other work at the Sackler Centre is focused on unraveling the biological basis of consciousness itself.
Elsewhere, the hallucinatory conviction that a body is in a place when in fact it is not has been used in an ameliorative way by Professor Julian Leff. Leff creates avatars that represent 'the persecutors' in the minds of schizophrenia sufferers and uses this as a means of treatment. The patient has absolute belief that the avatar is real and present.
With an ambition to create effective collaborations Seers’ is working alongside Seth and his researchers at the Sackler Centre, where she is exploring situations in which a viewer will (mis)take a visual image. Seth's ongoing work with postdoctoral research fellow Keisuke Suzuki, manipulating experiences of bodily and worldly 'reality' within an ostensibly Cartesian space of 3D computer generated virtual environments demonstrates how the relationship between self and surroundings can be surprisingly fraught with slippages and blind spots - an observation that strikes a chord with Seers' aesthetic, with its accent on audience immersion, and its regular plays with disjunction, disorientation and illusion.
Seers' interest in doubles, distorted mirror images and phantom projections of the self also finds an echo in Seth's planned investigations into psychiatric patients' responses to these virtual scenarios. Seers is keen to discover more on this through their continuing exchanges, and to continue contact with Professor Chris Frith, a pioneer in schizophrenia research, and someone who contributed to Seers' earlier project 'Human Camera', (2007). Seers is attracted to Frith's early ideas that the schizophrenic condition is an issue at the level of 'meta-representation' (i.e. in the conceptual modelling of reality, such as the awareness of the self being conscious of itself). The experimental study of such meta-cognitive processes in schizophrenia is still in its infancy, but it builds on a growing body of work suggesting that individuals with schizophrenia show a specific overweighting of current sensory data with respect to their prior perceptual hypotheses, which might underlie perceptual hallucinations and their evolution into delusions as the condition develops.