In his most recent show, Jesse Devost investigates how we gather and hold images in our mind. Optic Nerve, showing at Arts Underground until Nov. 28, explores how the optic nerve continuously captures images and transmits them to the brain, regardless of whether the brain can handle them.
His art employs a variety of mediums, including stencils, spray paint, and masking tape. Devost’s use of different mediums speaks to a larger issue about what the brain is being asked to process today.
As virtual reality ramps up and augmented reality begins to expand, we’re asking our brains to experience things that are unparalleled in history. Three dimensional movies are increasingly common and entire generations are growing up expecting things to be touch screen.
Brains are being asked to process more information at faster rates, and the optic nerve takes all of this in, instantly. Devost’s art speaks to this transformation, blasting with colours and shapes and lines that the viewer is asked to observe and process at the same time.
The show works on two levels: asking the viewer to consider the role of the optic nerve and actually engaging the optic nerve to receive and relay colours and shapes. The brain is thus busy considering the conceptual framework laid forth by Devost while another section unconsciously does the very thing that the art is supposed to represent.
Art is not quite imitating life, but rather coordinating it. The concept is exciting.
As we sit on the edge of what will surely be an increase in alternative realities – such as augmented and virtual – it is exciting to see artists already considering these changes.
That said, one can ask, quite reasonably, can the brain keep up? When putting on an Oculus Rift and playing games for two hours and then quickly switching back to real life, is this a task the brain can fluidly handle?
How will our brains adapt over time as more of these realities are created for us? If, as Devost says, the brain keeps capturing images and storing them, will there come a time when the brain begins to mix up those images revealed from augmented reality and those revealed in real life situations?
How artists further consider these potential changes to the brain, and how the brain continues to adapt to these structural changes, will define more than just art.
Devost’s ability to consider this bridging is what makes the show successful. If viewers consider the work and further consider Devost’s ultimate goals for the show, they will leave that much richer.
Jesse Devost’s show Optic Nerve is at Arts Underground on Main Street in Whitehorse until Nov. 28. The gallery is open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.