Chromoculars by Emmanuela Mastora and Nitish Jain, 2020.
Is shutting down our eyes the only way to escape the visual excess of information culture that surrounds us? Is there a possibility to keep our eyes in play with the other senses ?
We have created this sensory tool, the Chromoculars, that critically question our visual experiences. The Chromoculars allow the wearer to see only color and light without any shape or form. It offers an opposing “view” to the dominance of information culture where we perceive and judge everything by sight and vision. Crossmodal research on the senses states that through vision we receive information whereas by touching we have an experience. Living in the age of manipulation through the internet, advertising and media, the eye becomes an agent of capitalism: scrolling through hierarchy of presented information. It seems that we restrain our bodies from exploring things physically, tending to forget that vision is a physical process and experience.
The Chromoculars privilege experience over information. There is value and pleasure to be felt in the eye beyond the processing of human manipulated information. This sensory tool reconfigures our relationship with the visual world by creating a reduced, atmospheric and re-orientating visual experience.
Similar to being blindfolded, the Chromoculars allow the viewer to sense only the visually immaterial aspects of space. While blindfolds confront us with physical and metaphorical darkness, the Chromoculars, on the other hand, present the viewer with the opportunity to engage with shifting colours and light. It offers us an opportunity to activate the purely sensual experience of the eye. The nature of this tool also aims to enhance the aesthetics of tactile and touch based experiences. We connect to the other senses, and to the experience of discovery and play – sensing the world anew.
By putting on the Chromoculars, we can shut our eyes to virtual, social media and open them to only allow the chromatic aspects of our physical environment to affect us. You are left wondering if you are actually seeing something or you merely think to see.
This is a part of an ongoing performance research project. In the interactive performance, each person in the audience will wear the Chromoculars and embark on a chromatic, multisensory experience.