Suki Chan's films concern themselves with light, in all its shifting, shadow-casting forms. Her latest work, however, focuses on the joys that light affords – perception, vision, sight.
The three-screen video work at Tintype gallery in London hits a lot of the city's current artistic buzz words. It's immersive, interactive and interdisciplinary. But in no way is it box-ticking or generic. Funded by the Wellcome Trust and Arts Council England, the work takes us on a high-tech voyage into the human optical system.
Chan is intrigued by the quirks of perception – when playing with a camera obscura, she became fascinated with how our eyes receive images upside down, and yet the brain interprets them the correct way up. Her film reveals how visual information is modified and processed by the eye and the brain in real time, and it becomes abundantly apparent that at any given moment we actually see much less than we perceive. Viewers, if they're brave enough, have the opportunity to evaluate their own rapid eye movements during the show, thanks to cutting-edge tracking technology.
This is no kooky science experiment, however. Chan's photographic eye (as well as being scientifically engaging) is probing, relentless and abstract. Filmed largely within the University of London's Senate House (where Chan spent time during her degrees at Goldsmiths and Chelsea College of Art) we're taken into the depths of the building – the boiler rooms and book stores – in a fitting allegory of the journey into the dark corners of the human brain.
Says Chan, ‘The more I investigated perception and how the brain processes information, the more miraculous and incredible it became: how impoverished and compressed information received via our senses can yield a coherent, high resolution, detailed and multi-dimensional world.’ The impressive film takes our understanding of vision, and flips it upside down. It questions what we see, what we don't, and how our brain fills in the gaps. The resulting work is a powerful mix of artistic prowess and scientific suggestion.