designer and friend
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The Optical Unconscious

Walter Benjamin’s theory of the optical unconscious describes the disjunct between human and mechanical perception, referring to the realm of reality that was invisible until developed onto cellulose film. The act of taking a photo creates an interzone between our memories and reality.

If the photograph is absolute truth, then in a binary sense the overexposed areas is a manifestation of memory loss or lack of data. As light is the essence of photography, this project is a material/formal investigation into the composition of a photograph and its meaning.

The use of coloured filters pays homage to the ritualistic practice of adding filters on photos for social media, contributing to an already vast sea of pre‑existing filtered imagery. It seems what we are really conscious of is not just the subject, but the filters we overlay. The Optical Unconscious throws light to what isn’t there and repurposes the void by giving what was missing a presence.

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