A year ago Suki Chan used a camera obscura in a film she made and became intrigued by how our eyes receive images upside-down and yet the brain interprets them the right way up.
For me, looking at the upside down image in the darkened space, it is as though we have been transported to the inside of our eyes and are witnessing, at that same instant, our retinal image.
Weaving together extraordinary images, bio-medical research, and individual testimonies, Suki Chan’s new interactive moving image work Lucida, exposes the curious, complex relationship between the human eye, vision and the brain.
Lucida unpicks the relationship between vision and perception – revealing it to be an interplay between our own internal physiological, neurological reality and the external physical world. As psychologist Kevin O’Regan comments:
Photos made using the human cornea and lens would be totally out of focus everywhere except in the middle of the picture.
In making Lucida Suki Chan worked with ophthalmologists, neurobiologists, vision scientists and psychologists – and in particular has had the collaboration of vision scientist and neurobiologist Colin Blakemore.
Alongside the scientific framework for Lucida, individual stories – some with people losing their sight – provide a personal narrative that is at times philosophical and poetic.
Suki Chan’s practice is phenomenological in its intent and effect: her moving image and other large-scale installations are compelling and immersive. She uses light, moving image and sound to explore our physical and psychological experience of time and space. Chan has always been drawn to light as a physical phenomenon, and the role it plays in our constantly shifting daily experience of our environment.
An atmospheric sound track responding to visitors’ eye movements is composed by Dominik Scherrer, winner of the 2014 Ivor Novello Award for Best Soundtrack and 2015 Emmy Awards nominee.
Lucida was commissioned by the University of Salford Art Collection and the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA) in partnership with the Centre for the Study of the Senses, University of London and Tintype.
A publication accompanies the exhibition with foreword by vision scientist Colin Blakemore and essays by Dr Marius Kwint, Reader in Visual Culture, University of Portsmouth; Dr Richard Wingate, Head of Anatomy, King’s College London; and Gareth Evans, Film Curator, Whitechapel Gallery. Available here
Lucida is supported by a Wellcome Trust Small Arts Award, the University of Salford Art Collection and by Arts Council England.