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Reclaiming Vision

Still from 'Reclaiming Vision, 2018

Captured through a light microscope, ‘Reclaiming Vision’ features a diverse cast of microorganisms, sampled from the brackish waters of the inner Oslo Fjord, alongside algae, cultivated at the University of Oslo. The film reveals various processes in the water that are hidden to the naked human eye. By investigating the brackish water, its inhabitants, its properties, and the traces left by human activities, the film is a reflection upon the relationship we humans have with our surroundings, especially through what we cannot see.

Still from 'Reclaiming Vision, 2018

The film is inspired by real and historical events. The scenes have been staged by the artists, taking the presumption of reality that characterises nature documentaries into the realm of fiction film. Any resemblance to scientific research is coincidental. Starting from the assertion that looking evolved from the sea – eyes, in fact, evolved from marine algae – ‘Reclaiming Vision' takes the viewer on a journey through various ways of looking at, relating to and influencing nature.

Still from 'Reclaiming Vision, 2018

The main characters in the film are from brackish water. Central to the film is the notion of brackish with its many, mostly negative, connotations. The conditions of brackish water are affected by natural phenomena such as the tides and seasonal variation, but are also affected by rising sea levels as a result of climate change. Therefore, brackish water plays an important role as a warning sign in the prediction of various ecological scenarios for many coastal societies worldwide. Melting ice caps might influence global ocean currents by altering the saline levels, which again will have a disastrous impact on microorganisms in the oceans that are responsible for 50–85 % of the world's oxygen production and CO2 storage. Without these microorganisms, planet Earth would become uninhabitable for most living creatures.

Still from 'Reclaiming Vision, 2018

The film highlights the fact that human efforts to understand the world continues to be based on detached contemplation of observable phenomena. This pervades despite scientific developments, such as the microscope, that enable us to study our invisible co-inhabitants up close. Across different disciplines, people are constantly re-evaluating our relationship with our surroundings and are trying to find new approaches that transcend binary thinking and the view that nature is just an economic resource.

While ‘Reclaiming Vision’ reveals life on the smallest scale, its scope relates to global phenomena.

Directed by: Marjolijn Dijkman & Toril Johannessen
Music by: Henry Vega
Edited by: Dieter Diependaele
Scientific Consultants: Bente Edvardsen, Jan Heuschele, Jack Christopher Leo, Luka Supraha
Filming location: Microscopy lab, Section for Aquatic Biology and Toxicology, Department of Biosciences, University of Oslo, Norway
Commissioned by: Munchmuseet on the Move, The Munch Museum - Oslo, Norway

Reclaiming Vision: 26:37
Formats: Stereo - HD (H.264, Prores 422HQ, DCP)

Featuring (In alphabetical order): Acartia sp., Alexandrium ostenfeldii, Alexandrium tamarense, Ceratium furca, Ceratium tripos, Chaetoceros decipiens, Cirripedia larva, Coscinodiscus sp., Crustaceans, Dictyocha speculum, Dinophysis norvegica, Escherichia coli BL21 (DE3), Euglena sp., Eutreptiella braarudii, Green algae, Insect larva, Melosira sp., Nematodes, Nitzschia sp., Oithona sp., Proboscia alata, Protoceratium sp., Protoperidinium sp.,Prymnesium parvum, Pseudocalanus sp., Rhizosolenia hebetata, Rhodomonas salina, Rotifera, Scenedesmus sp., Skeletonema costatum, Temora sp., Thalassionema nitzschioides, Tigriopus sp.

Installation at HIAP in Helsinki, FI (2019).

'Reclaiming Vision', Marjolijn Dijkman & Toril Johannessen, Munchmuseet on the Move, Bjørvika, Oslo, NO (2018)

Life performance by Henry Vega and Jan Willem Troost, 4th Screen City Biennial, Stavanger, NO (2019)

Texts on Reclaiming Vision:
Interview - Marjolijn Dijkman & Toril Johannessen by Karolin Tampere
'Reclaiming Vision and Building Microbial Affinities' by Jenni Nurmenniemi
'Becoming Aquatic Eyewitness' by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk
'Reclaiming Vision: A Neo-Neo-Zoological Drama' by Jon Bywater