Lucie Rosenfeldová and Matěj Pavlík
Technology of the Self-Touching of the Eye

Solo exhibition of Lucie Rosenfeldová and Matěj Pavlík

exhibition opening: 1. 7. 2021

I begin carefully rubbing my eyelids with the tips of my fingers. I try to distribute the pressure regularly, observing how my fingertips create patterns of light on a black and white background, with muted colours permeating through it. The acidulously incandescent streams connect into larger wholes and shine in yellow, brown, and orange. The square paving in the background flashes regularly in negative while it gradually goes deeper in spiralous, infinitely rotating fractals. It is quite an entertaining view – it reminds me of being intoxicated by phenethylamines. My eyes begin hurting after a while, so I stop. It takes me a few minutes before I can focus and get used to the darkened space of the gallery.

The Technology of the Self-Touching of the Eye exhibition, by the artistic duo of Matěj Pavlík and Lucie Rosenfeldová, uses the phenomenon of the phosphene to demonstrate the extent to which human perception is influenced by ideological, social, and cultural factors. Phosphenes – a term originating in Greek, where phos refers to light and phainomenon refers to a phenomenon –
could be described as black spots of light brought about by pressure on the eyes. The origin and influence of these colourful shapes have been studied by philosophers, scientists, and doctors since antiquity.

This two-channel video installation makes use of formally diverse approaches. The development of phosphenes is first narrated from a historical perspective through the use of animated drawings and scientific experiments that attest to the bond between ideology and bodily biomechanics. For the people of the Middle Ages, light was an important tool of knowledge, illuminating everything around us. The critical turn that took place during the Enlightenment dethroned the neo-Platonic and medieval notion of the human who sends out rays of light. However, this also denied the hypothesis that the great men of history radiate light. The spots of colour we see become a subjective tool that mediates ocular liberation from the material world and offers a possible link between modern abstract art and Romantic physiology. However, it remains a question to what extent the subjective position belongs to a conscious subject.

The second part of the video installation works with the performativity of cinematic language, introducing the audience to the body as technology through a series of detailed shots. A technology that is, through embodied images, constantly moulding the human body, making it more effective and thus influencing the human subject. Stimulation of the eye, i.e. phosphenes brought about artificially, is an example of a possible agent influencing our perception. The drawings of phosphenes become images of an external pressure we have learned to accept as given.

The transformation in our interpretation of the physiology of the eye following an ideological foundation is used by the artists to demonstrate the importance of scientific imagination. Imagination can be understood as the capacity to bring about images in people and allow them to imagine a diverse range of changes. This capacity is sometimes erroneously attributed exclusively to artists. Pavlík and Rosenfeldová, however, point to the importance of universally shared images that influence not only the direction of society and our cohabitation but also influence the formation of our corporeality on a personal level.

Tomáš Kajánek

 

Lucie Rosenfeldová studied at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague, first in the painting studio of Jiří Černický and later in the sculpture studio of Dominik Lang and Edith Jeřábková, from which she graduated in 2017. She has exhibited solo at Plato, etc., and Tvar gallery, and with Matěj Pavlík in Galerie Jelení. Along with Alžběta Bačíková and Martina Smutná, she took part in the group exhibition Against Nature. Young Czech Art Scene at the National Gallery in Prague. Her films were also included in a number of screenings in both the Czech Republic and abroad. She won the main award at the Other Visions competition at the 2016 PAF festival in Olomouc.

Matěj Pavlík studied at the Academy of Art, Architecture and Design in Prague in the photography studio led by Aleksandra Vajd and Hynek Alt, later Martin Kohout, graduating in 2017. Pavlík’s practice includes a number of collaborations: an exhibition with Lucie Rosenfeldová at Galerie Jelení, co-curatorship at Galerie 207, and participation in several editions of the Fotograf Festival. He has also exhibited solo at A.M.180 gallery. Pavlík is one of the initiators of the Working Group for the Study of Non-Sensorial Aesthetics, which was among the laureates of the 2020 Jindřich Chalupecký award.

curator: Tomáš Kajánek
architecture: Michaela Marešová
production: Anna Davidová
graphic design: Nela Klímová
translaton: Ian Mikyska
special thanks to: Markéta Jonášová, Max Máslo, David Řeřicha, Jan Kašpar, Tomáš Procházka, Michal Jurza, James Mansfield

Financial support was provided by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and Prague City Hall.