Occular Witness is an artistic research-project that springs from Arijana Kajfes examinations of what light really is and what it consist of. The project attempts to stake out the limits of human vision and examines how information is malleable and how meaning is formed through image in a time when information is abundant and our culture is saturated with layers of processed imagery.
The installation i saw during ars electronica was meant to look like a â€œlaboratoryâ€? with several stations that each examines diverse processes of light and the eyeâ€™s perception of light.
One of the pieces of Occular Witness is Monochromeye a kind of hat that covers your scalp and eyes and reduces vision to basic monochromatic color readings of the environment. You have to wear a fingerholder fitted with one red, green and blue lightsensor that measures light as you point your finger at something. It feeds back the color information to two tricolored (RGB) light diodes that emit two beams of light straight into your eyes.
When i tried it on, nothing happened as long as i stayed in the gallery, but going out of it, passing under the stairs and reaching the outside made the experience much more enjoyable. Nothing spectacular, but having my mode of recognition reduced down to only three kinds of light was incredibly soothing and playful, although i should have tested it during a much longer period of time to really appreciate its effects. And of course i really like the alien coolness it gave me.
Arijana Kajfes conducted the project at the Smart Studio, Interactive Institute.
Images on flickr.