The Missing Eye explores the idea that our eyesight only contributes to the creation of an image in our minds, while our other sense are just as significant
What do you see when you go to sleep at night? What sorts of images float through your dreams, and where do they come from? These are some of the questions Italian photographers Mattia Parodi and Piergiorgio Sorgetti address in their new photobook, The Missing Eye – a searing monochrome excavation of dream vision and how it’s formed.
Focused on the enquiry of making pictures that speak to more than one of the senses, the project poses the idea that the eye is merely an aid to our seeing ability, and does not act alone. “We are so used to considering the eye as the undisputed protagonist of our vision,” the duo explains, “but in this work, it is downgraded”. From touch to memory, our unconscious and our dreams, so many of our other sensory and perceptive devices play a part in the creation of images in our mind. Drawing on scientific research, they add, “recent studies by the Lisbon Faculty of Medicine have shown that people who have been blind since birth dream in images. This made us think about how important everything beyond the optical system is in allowing us to process an image.”
The Missing Eye is an intense and cacophonous experience in which the details of eyes and hands, rocks and trees, crashing waves and religious references eclipse in and out of sight. There is no clear narrative, and no obvious symbolic link between the subject matter. The artists wanted to create “a complete and sensory immersion” in a sea of images, to garner an emotional response from their audience and replicate the feeling of being in a dream. “What we were particularly interested in was maintaining a sense of disorientation and mutability within the sequence,” they explain. “Photographically, we achieved this by isolating details (especially natural elements), gestures and faces, using water (which and closes the book), and plastic architectural or sculptural forms as references.”
All of the images are shot on medium format black and white film, which the artists chose for its “textural and tactile quality of light”. The use of black and white can be illuminating but also abstracting and expressive – useful qualities when trying to replicate the atmosphere of imagination.
Born in 1989 and 1988 respectively, Parodi and Sorgetti first struck up a friendship when studying together at the ISIA Urbino in Italy, and later began collaborating after pooling their ideas. The research that led to The Missing Eye took them four years. “Looking back on it today, the themes were the same but less defined; always linked to studies on the possibilities of the photographic image, on its latency and its openings, but without limiting them to a real starting point,” they say. The Missing Eye is part of a wider body of research called La Ferita (The Wound), and the duo, now based between Milan and Bologna, plan to continue their collaboration into new chapters, and new realms of imaginative discovery.
Joanna L. Cresswell is a writer and editor based in Brighton. She has written on photography and culture for over 40 international magazines and journals, and held positions as editor for organisations including The Photographers' Gallery, Unseen Amsterdam and Self Publish, Be Happy. She recently completed an MA in comparative literature and criticism at Goldsmiths College, University of London