Fight, Memo Akten

STRP Biënnale 2017 © Willie Kerkhof

We see things not as they are, but as we are.

Anaïs Nin? Babylonian Talmud? Immanuel Kant? G. T. W. Patrick? H.M. Tomlinson? Steven Covey? Anonymous? 

Fight is a VR experience by Memo Akten, commissioned by STRP, in which the viewer’s two eyes are individually presented with radically different images that triggers ‘binocular rivalry’. Presented with rival signals, the conscious mind ‘sees’ – or perceives – only one of the two images, and unpredictably alternates between them with unstable, patchy transitions. Which of the two images the viewer perceives, how and when they alternate, depends on the viewer’s physiology. So everybody will ‘see’ something unique, even though they are presented with the same images. The picture we see in our conscious minds is not a direct representation of the outside world, or of what our senses deliver, but of a simulated world, reconstructed based on our expectations and prior beliefs.

Fight is part of a broader line of inquiry about self affirming human biases and our unconscious tendency to selectively only see what we would like to see, and the resulting social polarization. These ideas have become increasingly relevant to Akten coming from Turkey, but are also worth taking into consideration when we look at recent developments in the western hemisphere.