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Tamiko Thiel - Fractured Visions - Commissioned by AXNS Collective

  • Tamiko Thiel Guys Campus, Kings College, London Bridge London, SE1 United Kingdom (map)

25th September - 30th October 2014, 24 hours a day

Download the app and interactive map to view:

Launch seminar and tour: 25th September, 6pm

King’s College London, Guy’s Campus, London Bridge

Photographs by Tamiko Thiel

From 25th September, visitors to The Shard and King’s College Guy’s Campus can view a new digital artwork by internationally renowned artist Tamiko Thiel. Made in collaboration with psychiatrist and clinical lecturer Dr Dominic ffytche from King’s College London, the work explores the fragility of human vision and how changes to the brain shape our perception of reality.

The site-specific digital artwork is produced using Augmented Reality and takes as its point of departure a rare visual disorder called palinopsia, which causes the vision to fragment and repeat. Thiel’s digital imagery disrupts the field of vision when viewed through an Android or iOS phone or tablet application. Architectural details of the surrounding buildings are layered and repeated on top of the actual structures, such that the viewer experiences the disorienting effects of this extreme condition in which the real is conflated with the virtual. As an artwork inspired by palinopsia, Fractured Visions will provide viewers with a unique emotional and experiential perspective on how the world can look through different eyes.

On the scientific benefits of the collaboration Dr. ffytche states, " ...much of the key detail is missing in clinical descriptions... the important contribution of our collaboration is the process of examining the experience of palinopsia from different angles. We have already stumbled across several issues that have not been thought of before."

When asked why the medium of Augmented Reality particularly appeals, Thiel said: "One of the ways in which art enriches our lives is by showing us new ways to look at our everyday world. This project combines two rich traditions of modern art: drawing on scientific and technical advancements that extend our physical senses, and looking at symptoms of visual disorders like palinopsia that provoked much of the ‘outsider art’ that inspired earlier artists like Dubuffet. Augmented Reality provides viewers with a ‘magic eye’ that must be wielded like a magnifying glass or binoculars, mediating not just the radical visual changes visible in the display but also engaging the whole body in a kinesthetic, exploratory encounter with place and site.

Fractured Visions is an original artwork commissioned by AXNS, a curatorial collective dedicated to cultivating collaboration between art and neuroscience and widening public understanding of neuroscience through art. The collaboration between Thiel and Dr. ffytche will result in the artwork, an accompanying seminar, and an online film and blog.

The project is funded by The Arts Council, The Wellcome Trust, and King’s College London.


Tamiko Thiel is aninternationally renowned artist who has created virtual installations, some invited some uninvited, at venues such as the Venice and Istanbul Biennales, Tate Modern and FACT Liverpool. Her Augmented Reality (AR) artworks explore the interplay of place, space and the body, engaging the viewer’s kinaesthetic senses and imbuing the virtual with a physical presence that extends beyond the smartphone display. Her explorations of tensions between reality and unreality provide a fascinating approach to exploring altered visual perception.

Palinopsia is a set of symptoms that appears in many different neurological conditions such as stroke and Alzheimer’s, and can even occur after having taken hallucinogenic drugs. Derived from the Greek ‘palin’ meaning ‘again’ and ‘opsia’ meaning ‘to see’, the disorder causes the vision to fragment and repeat, shattering the illusion of visual constancy that we so often assume to be a given ‘truth’.

Augmented Reality works by overlaying computer graphic artworks on the live camera view of a smartphone or tablet, such that it appears as though these images exist in the real world. Thiel began working in this medium in 2010 and has since become renowned as an Augmented Reality artist, producing over 20 different installations.

Dr Dominic ffytche is Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and Honorary Consultant at the Maudsley Hospital.  His research focuses on visual perceptual disorders, in particular visual hallucinations in eye disease, and he has published extensively in this area. He runs a specialist clinical service for people with visual perceptual disorders at the Maudsley Hospital, London. 

Earlier Event: 24 September
Resonance 104.4fm and Merge Radio Show
Later Event: 27 September
Science Gallery - Frequencie