In Brainwash the actor and audience watch the turning of a black and white striped drum. This drum is both an early cinematic zoetrope and a diagnostic neurological tool. Certain individuals suffer from cerebellar tumors and strokes leading to a condition called nystagmus and poor stability.
The Optokinetic Nystagmus Drum allows doctors to make objective judgments about the location of the lesion in the brain and its relation to the specific kind of disability. This device then derives its power from its insertion in two kinds of histories, one a projective creative history as it leads to cinema and the other to an objective scientific ontogenic history. The video asserts that these two histories, these objective and subjective relations cannot be separated.
The body is part of the world and that world is to a certain extent formed by new technologies. These new technologies, especially as they affect time and space, affect the production of subjectivity. In Brainwash, watching the rotation of the drum has destabilized the actor's person. The drum represents the effect of a new sublime condition brought about by cinema in the early 20th century; a condition that is related to the perceptual and cognitive systems of time and space. The Mind is the Flesh of the Brain to extend the phenomenological argument of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. In other words, the brain can eventually engage these new coordinates but it first must undergo a kind of shock. The journey from the original staged action of watching the drum to the beach is one in which the visual experience is transformed into a haptic one. The embodied visuality is transformed into a destabilized voyage to the beach in which the equator and perspective have become dislodged and destabilized. This leads to what I refer to as a translocation of subjectivity itself. We are surprised to find the actor in the camera lens when in fact we thought we were experiencing this new world through his gaze.
Artist: Warren Neidich
Production year: 2004
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