20 minutes of action 

For as long as I can remember I’ve seen the world in a way that is apparently abnormal but only realised this 2 years ago. One night on commenting on how hazy the lights outside looked that night; my parents pulled their hair and gnashed their teeth, fearing I had early-onset cataracts.

An enforced trip to the optician confirmed that there was nothing wrong with my eyes (20/20 vision!). But further conversations with my parents confirmed that what I saw was very different to what they did.

After some online research I found a term that described the way I see the world: Illusory Palinopsia - a rare neurological condition which manifests as a visual disturbance defined as the recurrence of a visual image after the stimulus has been removed.

This is when I began my work into visual disturbances. Funded by Arts Admin Bursary Scheme I began regular conversations with Neuroscientist Dr Edward Bracey. As part of this we met the authority on Visual Disturbances - Professor Goadsby. After this meeting I realised I had Visual Snow.

This search for a name of my condition is common for those with VS. Many of them (and there are thousands who contacted Professor Goadsby worldwide) have spent years talking to doctors and neurologists about what they say and experience. But it was not until Goadsby’s research in 2014/15 that it was officially recognised as a separate condition from Migraine Aura.

For me, this means that my vision is full of glowing lines and shapes, whizzing, fizzing dots and auras crossing and filling my vision. When I climb the hills around my familial home (the moors of Saddleworth) they grow more intense and kaleidescopic, amassing into recognisable, pulsating, geometric shapes. On a clear day, looking at the sky, it seems full of trillions of fizzy dots, like a bluish, translucent tv static.

I decided to research my VS, out of a burning curiosity and see how it could connect to my artistic process and artistic presentation.

Projects that have so far come out of it include:

  • Your Reality is Broken Festival at Guest Projects

  • LADA DIY - Break Your Reality

  • Your Reality is Broken at Wellcome Collection

My interest for this project is to create a culture of artist/science projects, experiences, happenings and grow collaborations.

I have worked with AXNS Collective on their LSD Hackathon https://axnscollective.bandcamp.com/releases

Had fascination conversations with scientists including Dr Chiari Nostri, Dr. Robin Carhart-Harris, Joe Barnby, Francesca Puledda.

 

I choose to contextualise this work as part of my ongoing Afrofuturist strand, creating new values for what is considered ‘black’ art.

Other artistic research into Palinopsia

Other artists have recently explored how to accurately represent Palinsopsia, mostly using technology to recreate the symptoms.

  • The Hallucinophone - an audiovisual interface created to replicate the visual symptoms of Hallucinatory Palinopsia: http://cmr.soc.plymouth.ac.uk/alexiskirke/insight.htm

  • Fractured Visions - a digital installation replicating the visual symptoms of Hallucinatory Palinopsia

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lsm/newsevents/newsrecords/2014/Sep/Fractured-Visions-To-See-Again.aspx

Before beginning my research in 2016, I thought about what I could add to the world of art/neuroscience. I thought one difference was that as a live artist interested in ritual, I wanted to explore sensuous embodiment rather than literal visual representation via technological innovation. However, on the path, I have also become interested in augmented reality and visulisations - as they seem to offer real hope for VS sufferers trying to describe their condition - whether to friends or doctors.

Here are some questions and aims I set myself at the beginning of the process:

 

Key Questions

- Through a diagnosis, find out if I have Palinopsia

- Can the scientific method be a useful tool for my artistic research. Can I converge the disciplines of practical performance research and neuroscience?

- How does the psychophysical training that I undertake in MAS effect it? What effect do varying stimuli on the senses have? (proprioception, equilibrioception, audioception, opthalmoception and mechanoreception)

 

Aims and Objectives

To discover if I do have this neurological condition and if there was a cause. To use myself as a test subject to explore illusory Palinopsia.

To work with Neuroscientists in a collaborative Science/Art laboratory environment. Creating potential models that can be repeated.

Finding a way to test my own Palinopsia - using different senses and stimuli within the artist laboratory and potentially the science laboratory.

Create a hypothesis linking my research into my personal perception and illusions and how it can be used have an effect on me as a performer and potential audiences. Particularly if there can be a link with ecstatic transformation on me as performer and audiences.

Through the research create a methodology for performance or artistic creation related to the concept of visual perception, visual illusions and specifically Palinopsia; connecting to my multidisciplinary process - music, psychophysical performer training and further developing my process.

Document the process in a way that may become part of the creative process.

A short neurophenomenological study on myself, using Fftsch model - July 2016

Vividness

  • The afterimages I see -  looks is on scale of 0 - 10

3

Like an afterimage

Like projections

  • But the visual snow on plane backgrounds is probably more like 5. Cause its indistinguishable from the surface - although I know its not part of the surface

The feeling around posession

  • 6

Feels uncontrollable whilst feeling very calm. Like all is right. Whilst things are quite different to normal.

Like an extreme version of pretending, where you’re not quite in control of the pretence. Or an extreme version of imagining, where the boundaries of imagination are blurred.

 

Eidetic imagery

 

  • Suggestions, being more suspetible to suggestion - the state of readiness in order to improvise. My state during The Passion - leading me to behave like Dolores, leading me to see the stove in Ellis kitchen. Occurs during alert conciousness

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eidetic_imagery

- Varies depending on the situation - really worth some more thought and reading.

 

Agency

My afterimages

1 - I’d say 0, but it seems like I can go for long periods of time without consciously noticing them, until I remember again.This is definitely less now, the more I’ve thought about it. Also its confused by the fact that it connects with ill health - e.g. feeling stressed or ill and feeling like light is too much, getting a migraine etc

 

Trance states

Mmm - well objectively, I have full agency. But there is a shock to the system if I don’t let myself go. Thats what I found in Berlin I think. It feels like there is a danger around it if I block it. Maybe that will fade now I’ve started being more honest with my emotions.

5

Locus

My afterimages

10

Totally feels like it is outside of myself

Trance states

3

Mostly from inside - projecting out onto the world at times

Afrofuturism and Sci Fi and Creating a new work

Palinopsia - seeing again. I realised I see past and present overlaid on top of one another. For how long? How long do the after images exist?

Make a model of my personal neurophenemonmology

e.g. afterimages

- the brightness of the afterglow

  • the way the image repeats

  • the quality of movement it has

  • the throbbing nature of it

  • differnet colours

  • the way different parts overlay on top of the other

  • what its like when I close my eyes

  • Interaction with the ‘normal’ world

  • the effect/interplay with other senses - the synaesthetic nature of it (e.g. on illusory sound)

  • the density - the denseness, overlaid effect

  • geometicness

  • discordancy

  • delay

Voice - e.g. transpose the model of my palinopsia onto the voice

so -

e.g. brightness of voice

  • repetition of one note

  • throbbing nature of it

  • overlaid different parts one on top of the others

  • interplay with other elements - e.g. with light

 

Could do this with action, movement, text and then also the theatrical elements - visual (light,

 

Late July 2016 - Met Edward Bracey, began to discuss ideas with him

 

He brought in the idea of Augmented Reality:

Augmented Reality

Maybe an app so people could see the different types of visual perception - you could choose. So you could see how other people see the world objectively.

 

21st August

Email from Dr Bracey Notes

  • All brains are different - spreading this message as a positive message to people

  • “From an evolutionary perspective, the more different brains there are, the more different perspectives we have on the universe, so the more likely we can solve problems together. Diversity of brains is crucial for the species!”

  • “Events like this that make brain differences more visible and normalises them are extremely valuable. Potentially such a powerful tool for dismantling stigmas about mental illness.”

Survey

  • Determining public attitudes to people with altered perceptions or mental illness.

  • Determining the attitudes of people who have altered perceptions to their own ideas towards their altered perceptions (this seemed to be important in diagnosing conditions earlier on?)

 

Events (interventions)

  • “could we measurably change their attitudes to brain variabilities and brain illnesses? We could even design an implicit association test to test their attitudes before and after. Appealing to emotions tends to be far more powerful than trying to grind people down with facts and figures”

People involved in the project

  • Dr Edward Bracey - will help design the survey and research and help me to develop my scientific method. Neuroscience mentor?

  • He will collaborate on creating the virtual reality systems

  • He will look into how easily we can create visual disturbances that change what you see in real time - sort of augmented reality.

  • He speak at events about sensory perception

  • He will find other experts in perception to be involved

Fuel Commission: Short Sharp Shock

 

Fuel Short Sharp Shock - October 2016

Ed and I came up with an idea for Short Sharp Shock for Fuel

 

Short Sharp Shock: Sensory shocks, a preliminary experiment:

 

The aim of the project is to use short, sharp sensory shocks to trigger feelings or heightened awareness of ourselves and our surroundings and to draw us out of our comfort zones.

The difference between how the artist and the scientist approach and cope with each shock will be used to find common ground, a common language between us.

 

This project inspired the LADA DIY workshop led by Jonathan, Ed and I in August 2017:

(Link to LADA DIY page)

“An intimate and exposing journey into perception, learning and creativity. Challenge your perceptions through a week of sensory deprivation and sensory immersion. An invitation to artists of all disciplines, with and without perceptual disorders, to explore perception through extreme acts of sensory deprivation and immersion. This laboratory is in response to artists Jonathan Grieve and Nwando Ebizie's own gradual realisation of our perceptual conditions: Synaesthesia and Visual Snow.”

 

February 2017

Jonathan and I curated YRIB at Guest Projects (link)

Along the ‘20 Minutes’ strand I curated a series of happenings during the month exploring exploring perception: altered states, visual illusions and hallucinations; and how it is linked to the creative act. What happens in that moment of suspension between perceived reality and action? The no consciousness. Is this the moment of trance action?

In the happenings rituals became gigs. Film screenings opened out into practical work sessions. Public science experiments became club nights.

The idea was to deepen our understanding of our own perceptual framework.

The ‘20 Minutes’ series within the festival:

 

  1. Opening Ceremony (link)

  2. Creative Neurophenomenology of Visual Illusions - (link)

  3. Dancing and Drawing Society: Visual Illusions (link)

  4. Synaestheat (link)

  5. 20 Minutes of Action research week and performance sharing (link)

  6. Vogue Workshop - Bedsit Ballroom - extreme movement, social ritual (link)

  7. Higher Higher Higher (link)

Add images and video

 

This series led directly to:

LADA DIY - August 2017 (link)

YRIB Wellcome Collection - December 2017 (link)

 

  • Including ASMR experiment

  • 20 Minutes of Action

  • Opening Ceremony

 

20 Minutes of Action, Home - January 2018 (link)

Hildegard: Visions - March 2018 (link)