An immersive video sculpture-installation. Four-channel HD video projection (29:32 minutes); rawhide; paper; fabric; metal; sound. 10’ x 20’ x 23’. 2015.
A collaboration between filmmaker Sarah Bliss and sculptor Rosalyn Driscoll, with sound by James Wyness.
(Documentation of the installation: if video does not appear directly above, please refresh your browser.)
"Visiting sculptor Rosalyn Driscoll and filmmaker Sarah Bliss's ambitious, lyrical installation, Blindsight... is like walking into a dream.... Bliss's images of rushing rain and ice on branches frame the central narrative, an unspoken, choreographed exchange among a handful of actors, often with water pouring down on them. Moody and beautiful, their movements drift into nearly erotic encounters and into conflict; often they feel akin to ritual. Indeed, Driscoll’s environment, dark with filmic windows of light, feels like a sacred space, a labyrinth through which we yet can see." From Cate McQuaid's Boston Globe review of Blindsight. June 30, 2015. Read the full review here.
Wild, raw, mysterious and sensual, Blindsight revels in the deep, unconscious dimensions of our lives. Reimagining the Daedalus-Icarus myth, it looks fearlessly at time and the aging body; eros; the dialogical, embodied nature of perception; and the mutability of matter. Blindsight’s open, maze-like structure, inspired by Daedalus’ labyrinth is made of translucent and reflective materials that multiply contexts and viewpoints. Visitors journey through a liminal underworld that unfolds as ritual or dream-time: simultaneous, multiple and fragmented rather than linear and hierarchical. There, they are swept into the very center of a highly charged drama in which the cast of nine enacts the sensual and sacred dance between spirit and the material form in which it is bound.
The term “blindsight” refers to the condition of people who are injured in their visual cortex but still able to respond to visual stimuli they are not conscious of seeing—thus becoming a metaphor for what we know unconsciously, and suggesting non-visual modes of perception: touch, hearing, smell, somatic sensing, and spatial awareness. Bodily responses are activated by the intense, intimate interactions of the filmic characters, as well as by haptic film techniques, sensuous screening materials, and the complex spatiality of the installation. Projections appear and disappear throughout the gallery, echoing the way neuronal pathways light up different regions of the brain. The installation frames cognition and experience as fluid, embodied and multisensory.
In Blindsight, matter becomes a vehicle for spirit, evident in the depiction of a natural world suffused with powerful agency; in the presence of water in its many states (vaporous mist, frozen rivers, turbulent depths, drenching torrents, rushing streams); and in the lyrical, enigmatic actions of the actors. Human perception is constructed as a dynamic process: the video projections assume different forms and meanings as they fall across various materials and surfaces, necessitating active, responsive perception by viewers. Blindsight creates an imaginal, elemental space grounded in an embodied sensory experience: filmic figures dance in a fluid environment that reflects their shifting inner worlds, creating their own spatiality, in the same way that each viewer generates their own world.
Using materials with translucent, reflective, active surfaces to receive and transform the moving images, Blindsight bridges the dualism of ephemeral digital signals and palpable concrete matter. The installation reveals how context shapes perception: the same image appears radically different on rippling cloth, wrinkled rawhide, intersecting planes of vellum paper, crumpled metal, or from different sides, angles, or perspectives. The use of rawhide skins underscores the film's themes of death and transformation and resonates with the rich variety of human skin in the film.
Projections are both rear and forward-projected, as many of the surfaces both transmit and reflect images, adding layers of marks and texture to the trnasmitted image, and changing its color. Many surfaces allow projected light to pass through them, falling again on a new surface, compounding the number of images, and creating new layers of architecture through shadow, light, and image on new surfaces.
Sound: There is no dialogue. The haunting, asynchronous soundscape is Stultifera Navis (The Ship of Fools), by Scottish sound artist James Wyness. It is composed of complex, abstract, layered tracks of field recordings and composed sound made underwater in Scottish ponds, with weather-driven structures in rural Portugal, in mountaintop chapels, and with transmission masts, metal factory machine tools, hand bells, and metal drinking vessels.
2015 Boston Sculptor's Gallery. Boston, MA.