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2015- ongoing, interdisciplinary

The Nautilus Shutter Experiments were initiated in early 2015 as an on-going series of experimental engagements with an opto-mechanical device. The project takes the form of a series of structured experiments (1: The Thin Blue Line, 2: True Wholes, and so on), which entail experimental research, mechanics and projection, in the form of detailed activities that explore potential drama in properties of light. The result of these engagements can take the form of installation, video work and performance. The sole aim of The Nautilus Shutter Experiments is to explore the perception of light through an apparatus that operates cinema.




2016, audio visual performance

The Nautilus Shutter Experiments: Part 2; True Wholes situates itself directly in the path of light; part lens, lantern, and laboratory, it aims to function as a dialogue between the mechanism of cinema, light and its source.  Simultaneously camera and theatre, the various apparatus are constructed into a dialogue charting lunar, solar and planetary explorations from the galactic to the topographic, all visions in a luminous flux.


The audio-visual performance is focused around the use of two mechanical devices; an apparatus custom designed to trace the motion of light (as perceived from Earth); an opto-mechanical device used in the projection of motion pictures. The performance is a process of composing and decomposing images through the diffraction and refraction of light in a process that journeys from the microscopic to the telescopic.  For its premiere, presented by the Experimental Film Society at Filmbase, Dean Kavanagh creates a live soundscape, interrogating the apparatus and suspending the actions in a sonic space.

Structured as five acts in ten scenes, True Wholes is a science of light, sound and machine that explores potential drama in properties of light. The viewers are invited into a selectively lit space, akin to an operating theatre, where the performer develops and executes each scene in chronology.


The title for the work is inspired by a quote from Arthur Zajonc [1] and by extension the writings of Fritjof Capra [2]. Both physicists address a historical understanding of light by entwining science, society and the rise of culture.  Newton’s corpuscular view of light also termed Newtonian world machine is a particular concern.  The modern scientist’s views are criticised for excluding experience (colour, sound, taste and smell) from the realm of scientific discourse and favouring the methodology of reductionism in experimental research. While Capra argues that science needs to develop the concepts and insights of holism and systems theory by the latter half of the 21st century, Zajonc elaborates on how Romanticists and American transcendentalists of the 19th century, most famously Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, would revolt against modern scientific thought.


‘It would be a century before poets would turn on Newton and the despotism of his

botanizing eye, they would then lament the dismembering of the world into parts,

so that true wholes were never more seen again.’


True Wholes is the second part of The Nautilus Shutter Experiments, an on-going series of experimental engagements with an opto-mechanical device. The sole aim is to explore the perception of light through an apparatus that operates cinema.


[1] Catching the Light: The Entwined History of Light and Mind,  Arthur Zajonc, 1995

[2] The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture, Fritjof Capra, 1982


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