From Stereoscopes, 2001
Girl Standing, Girl on Ground, Dress Detail
Arts Council of Northern Ireland Collection
Susan MacWilliam is a video and installation artist. Her practice incorporates research into the fields of psychical research, psychology, physiology, photography and viewing devices. Perceptual phenomena, paranormal activity and eyeless sight are amongst the phenomena examined. Susan received a General Arts Award to update her video equipment and to cover the costs of a research trip to Paris to meet Madame Duplessis - a senior researcher in dermo-optical perception.
For the past two years I have been in correspondence with Madame Yvonne Duplessis, Director Centre d’Information de la Couleur, Paris but in June 2005 I had the opportunity to travel to Paris to meet her. I am interested in Duplessis’ direct experimental research into the phenomenon of dermo-optical perception (eyeless sight/fingertip vision). Her work has direct relevance to my own work and research. In 2004 I presented my solo show ‘Headbox’ at Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin, and this work was based on the case of Rosa Kuleshova whose ability to read text with her fingertips was the subject of much scientific research during the 1960’s.
My visit to Madame Duplessis at her basement laboratory was extraordinary. She was a very generous host and was more than delighted to discuss her work. She had arranged for three of her assistants to be present for my visit and they demonstrated the experimental apparatus in the laboratory and explained to me how these worked. To witness the actual experiments taking place was fascinating as I normally work from archival material which tends to present itself in the form of still images. I used video and mini disk to gather visual and aural material.
It was wonderful to meet this captivating practitioner and her assistants. I now see my work developing along a new route in terms of its research and development. Much of my work to date has been developed largely through experimentation within the studio. I believe that making direct and first hand footage of people working within my field - that of psychical research, strange phenomena, psychology and perceptual fields - has great potential for the development of my practice.
I have been invited to show my work in an exhibition at the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast in September 2006. I will be developing the ‘Duplessis Project’ for this exhibition and plan to travel back to Paris during the year to meet Madame Duplessis again.
Further images and information is available on the artist's website: www.susanmacwilliam.com