18 Oct 2015
In art theory, the term ‘mimetic engulfment’ refers to a category of installation art that envelop the viewer and cause them to lose their sense of perception, often by immersing them in an unintelligible space - for instance, an unfamiliar room in utter darkness or utterly mirrored. With a radically reduced ability to locate oneself in relation to other objects.
I think about this with every night that I've spend at Ubin. When I switch off the solar mains in the living room, I'll depend on my torch to guide me to the bedroom. On nights without the moonlight, it will be pitch black. This sense of disorientation is reassured by my recumbent state. Visually, there is no difference whether I close or open my eyes as it's all darkness. You could pretend that your eyes were closed when they're not.
In an age of pervasive electrical illumination, I rarely experience darkness as a completely engulfing entity. The construction site opposite my block has lights so bright it creates a glowing dome. The streetlights and car headlights slip through chinks in the curtains to offer limited visibility. Even with eyelids closed, one could tell the presence of light.
|View from my room|
View in Ubin outside the house
Some nights I take a walk in the house, testing my sense of direction. Unlike in a pitch-black art installation, deprived of all residual light, I know my place in the engulfing darkness. There is perceptible space between external objects and myself. I roughly know my boundaries without knocking into things but moving so slowly.
Then dawn breaks.