Pneuma Penumbra; seeing in the dark
Pneuma: The inner self or conscious part of you that experiences the interpretation of your surroundings and perceives your relationship to them.
Penumbra: The outside edge of a shadow that is only partially shaded.
The gloaming: The time of day when the partially shaded edge of the sunlight on earth makes it neither night time nor daytime.
Playing in the gloaming of our self-awareness
The average healthy mind ignores information that is not obviously relevant. (This unawareness is literally ignorance) My work often attempts to draw attention to things that were always visible but were overlooked or ignored. I aim to alter my viewer’s awareness to reveal things we cannot see until we learn how to see them while suggesting that other things in life might be unperceived or unintentionally disregarded.
This particular work will attempt to inspire change in perception of the self by pointing out the inaccuracies of our senses and of our ignorance of nature. It will celebrate the liminal moment of freedom from identity that happens when you realise that you are not exactly what you thought you were. It will strive to achieve with science and reason a state between self-awareness and egolessness that is usually only achieved in spiritual ritual.
You enter a room. A voice speaks. It is so dark that you cannot see the walls to orient yourself in the space. You breathe deeply. You slowly become aware of your surroundings. You struggle to focus your eyes. The space around you seems to get brighter and then everything becomes clear. You are immersed in the cold light produced by living glow-in-the-dark mushrooms.
I am preparing to create an audio installation that will house a collection of living bioluminescent organisms invisible in the dark until the eye adjusts. Viewers will sit in the dark and listen to a recording that will simultaneously be a biology lesson and an exercise in awareness. The audio track will introduce my research about the inaccuracies of our perception and how technology and culture affect our understanding of our world and of ourselves. The recording will discuss selective attention, illusions, the 21 human senses, our physical biology and micro biome through a series of interactive exercises that will challenge perception and awareness. The talk will cycle through several themes rhythmically: Light and dark, awareness and ignorance making a metaphorical correlation between the eye and I until the audience becomes more deeply aware of their surroundings and internal events. As the viewer’s eye adjusts to the dark they will become aware that they are surrounded by glow-in-the-dark organisms whose authenticity may not be evident due to their unfamiliarity. Using natural history, ritual, contemporary art and pop media models I will build a platform to reflect on nature and self-identity.
As an artist Interested in cognitive dissonance, paradigm shifts and moments of realization, I am drawn to the lecture and ceremony as methods to perform this work. The piece will be presented as an audio installation and a live performance/ talk at conferences.