The camera obscura, an optical device used to project an image on a screen using a lens or pinhole, has been used by artists for hundreds of years. It features in the 2003 film Girl With a Pearl Earring (based on the novel by Tracy Chevalier), a fictional version of the story of the woman behind Johannes Vermeer’s famous painting of the same name. Now, the camera obscura has inspired Hong Kong-born and London-based artist Suki Chan to undertake an exploration of the complex relationship between the human eye, the brain and vision; intrigued by the way in which, like the obscura, the retina receives images upside down (having been refracted by the lens), and yet the brain processes them the correct way up, Chan has begun to explore the mechanisms of visual perception. In Lucida, Suki Chan (27 January – 30 April), a new exhibition at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (CFCCA), Chan has translated her findings into art.
The exhibition includes eye-tracking technology, with which users can reveal their own rapid eye movements, with a multi-screen installation exposing the way in which visual information is processed by the eye and the brain in real time. Weaving together images, bio-medical research and testimony, Chan highlights the way in which we actually see far less than we perceive. Much like the forthcoming exhibition How much of this is fiction at FACT in Liverpool, Lucida, Suki Chan plays with issues of deception and illusion; our belief that we perceive the world exactly as it exists is, in fact, a misconception.