Press release

Seeing Myself See

Hear the ‘sound of colour’ and the ‘music of your clothes’ played by an ensemble of ‘Seeing Instruments’ and watch a real, live experiment designed by children where bumblebees are trained to make sense of colour puzzles that our most sophisticated robots cannot. These activities plus more are part of ‘Seeing Myself See’ - a free event at Wellcome Collection in London.

Seeing Myself See: Saturday 29 May 2010, 12.00-17.30
Venue: Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
Admission: FREE

When we look out into the world we see trees, buildings and fast-moving cars. We see faces and emotions displayed on those faces. We even 'see' such abstract concepts as beauty. We see all this though none of these objects, emotions or concepts actually exists in the light that falls onto our eyes.

So how do we actually see things? What we see is shaped by experience, by interaction, which makes each of us an essential part of the process by which we are 'making sense' of the world. Visitors to Wellcome Collection's ‘Seeing Myself See’ event will be able to witness this process of 'making sense' first hand by experiencing the visual world in a completely new way - through sound.

The event has been produced by Lotto Lab in association with Wellcome Collection.

Beau Lotto curator of the event comments: "Many of the installations at this event explore the process of constructing perception by replacing one sense (seeing) with another (hearing and touching). In doing so we are exploring how the brain makes sense of the light that would otherwise fall onto the eyes. At Lottolab our aim is to explore and explain 'how and why we see what we do'. Lottolab Studio creates installations, musical performances, educational programmes and carefully controlled experiments on humans, bumblebees and robots to better understand perception. The ideas of 'Seeing Myself See', drives all our public work, as it creates uncertainty and thus the opportunity for creativity and compassion."

Ken Arnold, Head of Public Programmes at the Wellcome Trust comments: "We sometimes think of seeing things as a passive reflex, but as this startling programme of events and activities makes clear, there is far more to looking than meets the eye. Beau Lotto's activities are sure to leave visitors wide-eyed."

'Seeing Myself See' activities at Wellcome Collection include: 

Bee Matrix
Real bumblebees will inhabit a one metre Plexiglas cube called the 'Bee Matrix'. In the Matrix, bees are trained to see colour by landing on Plexiglas flowers. The aim of the highly interactive installation is to explicitly show the role of experience in shaping behaviour - which is true in humans as well as bees - and thus the fundamental relationship between mind and ecology. In addition to the bee experiments, three towers made up of 40 crystal cubes will be installed showing the flight paths of a solitary bee. Collectively the three towers will represent 10 minutes in the flight history of the same bee.

The Seeing Instruments
Three instruments made from wood each contain a camera that people can hold. Participants can use this to scan themselves to create different rhythms. The 'rhythms of colour' are created through software that translates the light patterns seen by each camera into sound. The activity will enable people to see the view of the camera as well as hear the sounds they play.

The Mind Chair
Can you see with your skin? The Mind Chair translates patterns of light from simple black or white shapes into vibrations played on your back. Sit in the chair and sense if you can you tell one shape from another. It is based on a chair that was built in 1969 by Dr Paul Bach-y-Rita to let blind people see with their backs. The Mind Chair has been created by Beta Tank, who have worked with Lottolab on many creative projects.