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Prix 1987 - 2007

Ars Electronica Linz & ORF Oberösterreich

Occular Witness
Arijana Kajfes

Occular Witness is a project about light and vision. It is a study, both physically and metaphorically, of light as a carrier of information and meaning. On the photonic level, light is seen as the pre-cognitive and pre-linguistic smallest component for the transmission of information. On the symbolic level, light also reveals the surrounding dark expanse of human knowledge and understanding.

With the outset in Duchamp’s work with the Large Glass and the notes and studies for it in the Green Box, the project Occular Witness evolves around experiments with light and ideas about vision that move in the grey zone before interpretation and the production of meaning takes place.

The experiments all have a common denominator in trying to grasp the issues of representation in a world of information overflow and an abundance of production. Also, the work presents an alternative research method, combining text, theory and practice in a way that does not abandon the artistic, profoundly subjective basis of inquiry.

The ideas in the project were assembled in an installation and an artist’s book. The installation consists of six physical models or sculptures that ontain the experimental processes. All six models are constructed as optical problems, where the emission and absorption of light sets off the reactions in both the sensory systems of the machine and the human observers, the “witnesses”. In the book, the models are proposed as generic setups, “universal cases”, with the components seen as open-ended variables, both in meaning and in performance. By reducing and simplifying the complex processes of perception and by giving substance to light as a medium in and of itself, the work tries to redefine some fundamentals about light and vision and use them to expose the visual mechanisms in their most tentative states.

Developed at Smart Studio, Interactive Institute (SE) in collaboration with Aurelian and Lili Bria, AnnSofie Börjesson, Fredrik Petersson and Pablo Miranda