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PRESENCE OF THE ABSENCE

“Every act of perception, is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination” 

Oliver Sacks

 

The subjective experience of visual perception involves complex interactions between external stimuli and internal neurological processes. Phenomena such as phosphenes and afterimages exemplify the ephemeral nature of perceptual experiences that emerge from this interplay between the physical and the mental. This visual phenomenon becomes a metaphor for the process of memory. Just as a residual image persists behind closed eyelids, memories cling to the curtain of our mind, often more vivid in their absence than in their presence. These luminous visual sensations have fascinated philosophers, artists and scientists for centuries, as they vividly exemplify the imagination's ability to evoke images independent of external visual stimuli and thus invite

consideration of the neurological and psychological inputting of perception and memory.

 

My life as an artist in Miami, a city bathed in intense and persistent light make it such that when I close my eyes, these glimmers that refuse to fade seem to access my visual history, projecting roving patterns that echo into places bathed in the infinite light of the city. They are reminiscent of those deep, intimate memories that arise from within for no apparent reason, momentarily illuminating our consciousness before fading back into darkness.

 

Memories, like phosphenes, are not perfect reproductions of reality. They are interpretations distorted by time, emotions and subsequent experiences. Shannon's mathematical theory of communication articulated how messages encounter 'noise' or interference as they traverse a channel, resulting in inevitable distortions. 

 

Drawing parallels to this framework, this art project aims to explore how visual information transforms as it travels through multiple layers of mediation, from neurological to algorithmic representations. Much like how messages face potential distortion in communication channels, visual experiences too are altered, whether by neurological processes or external manipulation.

 

The initial creative process involved generating unique visual representations using artificial intelligence (AI). The AI was provided with a set of inputs including my own brain scans, my b/w sketches, neuroscience imagery, and textual concepts related to perception. This allowed the algorithm to interpret and synthesize these elements into novel images, adding its own layer of abstraction or 'noise.' These AI-rendered images then become a canvas upon which I further impose my artistic interpretation. Whether manipulating it into a dynamic video, translating it onto diverse tactile mediums, crafting it into a sculptural form, or abstracting it further through drawing, I introduce another layer of ‘noise’. This ‘noise’ isn’t just distortion; it’s my personal, artistic dialogue with the original concept, echoing the age-old practice of artists who, rather than replicating nature, create abstractions that resonate with deeper truths.

 

The final artwork, therefore, isn’t a literal representation of the neuroscience imagery. It is an abstraction, a metamorphosis that has journeyed through the algorithmic mind of AI and the interpretive lens of the artist. This iterative process of transformation and reinterpretation invites viewers to contemplate the mutable nature of perception, the continuous interplay between the literal and the abstract, and the profound ways in which ‘noise’, whether biological, technological, or artistic, shapes our understanding of the world.”

"Presence of the absence" , the video part of my collaboration with MIT, was selected to be showcased at Times Square during the Armory Show from Sept 2-8 2024.

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