Retinal AfterImage (1-4), 2014. Glow-in-the-dark silkscreen on paper.
Retinal Afterimage (1-4) is a series of glow-in-the-dark silkscreen prints based on the drawings 1823 of the Czech scientist Jan Purkinje, who produced drawings of the afterimages that appeared on the inside of his retinas after being exposed to bright light. The original images from which this series of prints was based were taken from reproductions printed in Jonathan Crary’s 1990 book Techniques of the Observer. According to Crary, “For Purkinje the physical surface of the eye itself became a field of statistical information…” (p. 104)
Purkinje was among a group of scientists in the early 19th century who were beginning to understand perception as a subjective phenomena, a complex material construct subject to the idiosyncrasies of the individual body. For Crary, Purkinje’s work represents a significant shift in thinking about vision, “the notion that perception was not instantaneous, and the notion of a disjunction between eye and object.” (p. 104)