The Invention and Conclusion of the Eye

[person_by] Toril Johannessen

November 2020

Toril Johannessen (1978, NO) engages in methods and source material from ‘specialist fields of knowledge’ such as science, visual perception studies, linguistics, and the occult. By combining scientific fact and fiction with her own investigations, she applies a critical, subjective and speculative view on the impact of modern science on various forms of knowledge production. Her special interest in ways of (not) seeing is expressed through the audio play The Invention and Conclusion of the Eye. “We see with our brains, not with our eyes (…),” goes the opening sentence of the audio play. This 38-minute long piece proclaims a vision of the future around the development of the eye — a premise that, propelled by technological innovations, will apply to all of humanity. The play’s female protagonist, a certain Mx, is working on a scientific paper about this issue and regularly consults with an image editor per telephone. Mx hints at a paradigm shift leading to a post-visual world, in which we might only perceive internalized, mental images — directly via the cortex — the eye having become a redundant organ. These mental images would be managed by algorithmic predictions, enabling us to see the ‘unseen’, as witness the meaningful remark that “[…] the world we live in is overwhelmingly invisible.” In the long run an all-seeing Eye might evolve without the mediation of ‘vision’.

Toril Johannessen
Toril Johannessen (b.1978, Norway), living in Tromsø, Norway. Perception and representation as historical and technological constructs are recurring themes in her artistic practice.


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