SightUnseen was a TECHNE funded and RCA sponsored exhibition event held in Dyson Gallery at the RCA between 23 March – 1 April 2017. Participating artists were all TECHNE AHRC supported researchers and artists: Åsa Johannesson (UAL/RCA), Janina Lange (RCA), Christina Mamakos (RCA) and Bridget Smith (RCA). There was also a small publication produced and edited by the artists with Pauline van Mourik Broekman (RCA) and designed by Daniel Clark who replaced Simon Josebury (Kingston) who dropped out last minute due to personal reasons. The publication comprised about 30 pieces of text/image/responses chosen from about 100 submissions from the TECHNE consortium and the general academic community. The final publication included work from students from the RCA, Kingston, UAL and Goldsmiths.
The aim of this project was to present a curated exhibition and accompanying publication to explore ideas of perception within the context of art-based practice and research. This dialogue sought to create a platform to address common questions about the relationship between seeing and knowing, specifically ideas around perception, belief, and imagination. In bringing together various forms of practice ranging from painting, installation, photography, print, and performance/sculpture, and situating them within an open discourse, this exhibition presented a cross-disciplinary art and research platform to engage practitioners and researchers across the TECHNE consortium and the greater scholarly community.
The exhibition and publication were conceived to respond to the current instability of visual perception – in which the ocular has come to govern all other means of knowing, yet is simultaneously violently undermined by the proliferating regimes of simulation, virtuality and visualisation, which rest on the eye's capability and dominion. The exhibition probed the broader philosophical and experiential vocabularies that have always existed around sight and sightlessness (denoting for example the realm of the imagination, the skeptical attitude, or profound spiritual understanding), to find ways of opening up new avenues for artistic experimentation and questioning.