Distorted Constellations Vol 2: A Visual Snow Alternate Reality
A multidisciplinary exploration of neurodivergency drawing from the artist’s experience living with Visual Snow Syndrome
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Distorted Constellations Vol 2: A Visual Snow Alternate Reality by Nwando Ebizie is a multidisciplinary, Afrofuturist exploration of neurodivergency inspired by the artist’s experience living with Visual Snow Syndrome. Art, music, technology, neuroscience and Black Atlantic ritual cultures connect across a 360° short film and bespoke Instagram filter.The result is an immersive, alternate reality ritual for viewers to question their own perceptions of reality and engage with new possibilities.
Visual Snow Syndrome describes the permanent presence of disruptions such as static, trails, auras, starburst, and pointillist dots in a person’s vision, alongside sensory disturbances including tinnitus and ocular migraines. Currently considered rare, it is a little known neurological condition in the early stages of research by the scientific community.
The 360° film reimagines a spectrum of Visual Snow symptoms as luminous and sonic phenomena, expressed through Ebizie’s distinct hybrid of experimental live art, music, dance and ritual. As performer and artist, Ebizie appears in multiple spirit manifestations – water, earth, air and fire – referencing Black Atlantic goddesses, classes of gods and ritual cultures, specifically the Caboclo from North East Brazil and the Igbo from Haiti and Nigeria. Ebizie’s original song Something Like Empathy (Visual Snow) soundtracks the film, poetically and sonically expressing the symptoms she’s experienced, and is built around the idea of what it is like to see through somebody else’s eyes. The genre-blending song comes from her upcoming debut album The Swan, an Afrofuturist work of sonic fiction into the imagined world of a matriarchal community, to be released on Matthew Herbert’s Accidental Records early 2022.
Produced in collaboration with designers, filmmakers and technical experts, Distorted Constellations Vol 2 is a visualisation tool, a provocation on difference and a transgressive experience encouraging interaction and reflection in both virtual and physical space. Combining fully immersive points of view, spatialised sound reactivity and cutting edge video processing and SFX, each viewing will offer unique possibilities for exploration and engagement by viewers.
Accompanying the film is Forma’s first Instagram filter commission Visual Snow, created in collaboration with artist and AR specialist Cibelle Cavalli Bastos. The filter allows users to layer their own surroundings with a selection of Visual Snow effects to share online, promoting awareness of the neurodivergent syndrome. Importantly this filter also demonstrates the potential of AR filters as a useful tool to better understand and diagnose Visual Snow Syndrome. As part of the project’s launch, we will reach out to online Visual Snow support communities, welcoming feedback and comparison to how the condition operates for them.
Distorted Constellations Vol 2 is a project rooted in accessibility. Originally conceived as a development of Ebizie’s multi-sensory installation Distorted Constellations that overcomes the physical barriers of place, the multidisciplinary artist has carried this ethos forward into all elements of the work. Working with disability access consultants, she has included 360° aware lyric captions, and created a companion video to provide multifaceted entry points including an introduction to Visual Snow Syndrome and audio description of the visual world audiences will encounter.
This new iteration of Nwando Ebizie’s Distorted Constellations continues the artist’s commitment to Afrofuturism and sensory ritual as powerfully subversive practices and a means of connecting with each other and ourselves. The work is transformed for 2021, but retains the enduring belief that transcends all its forms; reality is subjective, perception is fallible and how we experience the world is due to our own specific neurology.
‘One of the main reasons for this project is to propose the idea that perception (perception in this case means the overview of the vast array of sensory information that is gathered by the brain and projected out onto reality) underpins our sense of reality – it is fundamental to who we are and how we experience the world.
All humans sit somewhere on a neurodiverse spectrum – our brains are unique.
Our own unique neurology has an implicit effect on our perception of the world – forming bias, prejudices and the way you see your place in the world.
I propose acceptance of a neurodiverse spectrum as a radical way to make changes in society – to create a society which grants all diversity, space to flourish.’
– Nwando Ebizie
The Space is a commissioning and development agency, founded in 2013 by ACE and the BBC. Our mission is to empower the UK’s cultural sector to inspire audiences through digital content and experiences. We support arts, heritage and community organisations, including museums and libraries, to produce digital creative content for online and broadcast platforms, as well as site-specific digital experiences. We enable them to connect with diverse audiences and visitors, engaging them in digital cultural and creative experiences - whether in person, online or through TV and radio.
With support from Manchester Metropolitan University and Wellcome Trust
- With Special Thanks to The Boo Theatre, Rossendale
- Nwando Ebizie is a Recipient of a Jerwood Arts’ Live Work Fund Award in 2021
- Distorted Constellations was originally commissioned and supported by Unlimited, celebrating the work of disabled artists, with funding from Arts Council England.
Lead Artist and Performer: Nwando Ebizie
Cinematographer and Editor: Leonardo Lami
Technical Director and 360 Post-production: Joby Catto, Anti Limited
360 Audio Spatialisation: Guillaume Dujat
Outside Eye (Performance): Henrietta Fusi
Wearable Art: Rachel Freire
Make-up and Styling: Natalie Sharp
Access Consultancy: Kirin Saeed and Caroline Jane Ward
R&D Immersive Storytelling: Dr Erinma Ochu
Producer: Rachel C Clark, Forma Arts and Media
Song Credits: Something Like Empathy (Visual Snow) by Nwando Ebizie
Taken from debut album ‘The Swan’ on Accidental Records