Eye See: Tracing the Tech

by Ms Nurul Huda Rashid

Polaroids of a camera and an eye examination by Nurul Huda Rashid (2007)




Growing up in the pre-internet era, the television, seated comfortably in our living room, was a first introduction to the screen. It transported us into new technicolour worlds, exposing our eyes to new sensations as life flickered from scene to scene in mere miliseconds. Parents would instruct children to sit far away from the TV set, lest they spoil their eyes. How quickly that changed. Fast forward to the introduction of desktops and laptops that have given users greater control over visual content that could be searched and viewed, positioned in front of us, a mere arms length away. Then came the age of smartphones that release bursts of images, streamed one after another by algorithms that track our views in order to saturate us with more sights and more videos on social media platforms. These smartphones came with new warnings of blue light exposure, high energy waves pulsing through our environments, potentially causing  harm to our skin, eyes, and sleep. A new wave of light that keeps a whole generation awake. The iris, the part of the eye that controls the amount of light that enters, is being inundated by these constant and direct waves of light. And yet, today, we have witnessed the invention of VR devices that are strapped onto our faces as we crave more immersive experiences that collapse image onto retina. It is an experience that is no longer mediated through a screen, for it operates directly onto the the senses, directly into our eyes. Our eyes have also become instrumentalised and made an extension of technology: as biometric iris recognition technology that is mobilised for surveillance and detection. It transforms an everyday act of looking into a device, into a record of us, or as data that can be utilised against us. A collapse.


NAF programme title:
 A Close Eyecounter