Work-in-progress and part of a research originally presented via a-desk.org/magazine/within-visual-phenomena-vol-i/
Within Visual Phenomena Vol. I is an exploration of possible visual and sound connections through entoptic phenomenology. The entoptic phenomena (from the Greek ἐντός “beyond” and ὀπτικός “visual”) in ophthalmology are characterized by visual stimulation, of which the source is found in the same eye, for example, the vision of ocular blood vessels or blood cells, which circulate in the vitreous body of the eye.
The entoptic images have a physical base in the image that appears on the retina and differ from the optical illusions, which are caused by the visual system and are defined as a visual perception that apparently differs from reality. As entoptic images are caused by elements that are part of the spectator’s own eye, they share a characteristic with optical illusions and hallucinations: the observer cannot share with other people a direct and specific vision of the phenomenon.
These entoptic phenomena, although having a logical and simple scientific explanation, have alternative interpretations. Some are due to experiences that differ from the medical-scientific description of the phenomenon. As physical and neurological symptoms, they belong to the area of study of medicine; as slightly subjective phenomena, they are likely to have spiritual meanings for certain people.
For example, many of the abstract geometric figures in indigenous art or in ritual-induced visions in shamans or yogis can be understood as “entoptic phenomena” (Thurston, 1997). Entoptic phenomena are geometric shapes and patterns in motion or bright color in the visual field, caused by certain conditions of the human visual nervous system. An example is the archaeological controversy over a neuropsychological interpretation of Palaeolithic rock art. Since the discovery of European Palaeolithic caves, archaeologists have wondered about the importance and significance of these geometric representations that accompany animal representations.
In 1988 archaeologists David Lewis-Williams and Thomas Dowson presented the original thesis in which they stated that paleolithic art is inspired by entoptic phenomena (or, more specifically, by “constants of form”), seen and represented by shamans or spiritual men and women, during altered states of consciousness. Author Tony Berlant believes that many of the prehistoric ceramic designs in Mimbres (American Southwest), which often have characteristic zig-zag designs, represent entoptic images resulting from ingesting extracts from psychoactive plants such as Datura.
Thanks to the subjective quality of the sound, I can describe the entoptic visual experience without making a realistic and reliable formal representation of the visual structure of this phenomenon. With a purpose still unknown, the project explores these forms and their possible representations, simply describing and playing around with this imaginary derived from these phenomena. The resulting graphic compositions are the result of a game.
The sound pieces resulting from sound synthesis are descriptive, although the graphic pieces admit the incorporation of imaginary elements that allow us to move away from the narrative and play with elements such as space or movement. All the materials form part of the process of a study that the artist began in 2016 when he discovered the phenomenon by chance, through (amongst other things) a project by American photographer William Hundley inspired by it.
released October 14, 2019
Recorded September 2019 in my home studio.
Special Thanks: Albert Alcoz