Iceland Akureyri Picnolepsy Bollason Virilio

Discovered an interesting theory and concept whilst visiting Akureyri Art Gallery and Museum, Iceland – PICNOLEPSY. ( Iceland Akureyri Picnolepsy Bollason Virilio )

I cannot do better than reproduce the text itself from the Museum. So with thanks, the source from Akureyri Museum …

When Gustav Geir Bollason began work on Sandtime Psalm of Fading Flowers, he was reading Paul Virilio’s Aesthetics of Disappearance (1991), in which the philosopher describes what he calls picnolepsy, a condition marked by momentary cognitive absences, temporary disconnects.

As the picnoleptic flickers in and out of consciousness, they compensate for these ‘epileptic’ discontinuities by glossing over them.

Perception is thus a polished version of actual sensory experience – just as our eye stitches together discrete cinematic frames for the illusion of seamless movement.

With the acceleration of information and hyperstimulation of modern life, these gaps and glitches become ever more frequent.

And ‘the more information flashes by’, says Virilio, ‘the more aware we are of its incomplete fragmentary nature’, the greater our knowledge – mainly gained from screens – the further we venture into a sensorial desert and an ‘attentive impatience for a world that does not stop coming.’

When you zone out for a moment, what do you miss? In one second a bat chirps 200 times, Amazon makes 18.5 sales, 4.3 babies and 4,800 stars are born.

If you space out for a second on a commercial flight you are 250 meters nearer your destination, the same distance it takes three minutes to walk.

What you miss can therefore be relative to your speed, your frame of reference. And should we not speak of personal, but of collective picnolepsy? Virilio stresses what the meteorologist explains ‘the local level is always an uncertain objective, it’s on the scale of the globe that we should envision the meteorological data, our weather is always somewhere else’s’.

How many acres of rainforest have disappeared in our cumulative lapses of attention? How many songbirds lost?

Source – Akureyri Art Museum

Iceland Akureyri Picnolepsy Bollason Virilio