By: Hailey Suydam

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“Light is more fundamental than space or time”.


A phosphene is a phenomenon characterized by the experience of seeing light without light actually entering the eye. The word phosphene comes from the Greek words phos (light) and phainein (to show)


While developing ideas around space, time and consciousness I found light at the core of seemingly everything. Through this investigation, I was introduced to the term “phosphene” and found that this phenomena, which had always intrigued me as a child but I could not name, had its own area of study and research. We all experience phosphenes, which themselves fall into 1 of 12 categories. The basic, primitive forms that phosphenes take on mirror the symbols found in vinca text. The vinca tablets are the first ever written language dating back to 5300 BC Romania. The symbols which make up this language are so universally intuitive that I believe they belong to a morphogenetic alphabet, embedded in our biological reality and are the basic foundation of how we understand and construct visual imagery.

As an artist exploring these ideas, physically tangible materials no longer felt truthful. I needed to find a way to participate in the phenomena I had been researching. By pure experimentation I found an interesting relationship with scanners and light. If I pointed a light towards the scanner bed as it was processing, the scanner revealed an image much different from just a simple point of light.  If I showed the scanner multiple points of light the images appeared more dynamic still. They bore a striking resemblance to the cosmos, rorschach images and the vinca and phosphene forms. This process held the mystery of these subjects as well. I cannot explain how they take shape, they do not resemble my small laser points. I am left to believe that there is energy being produced that I cannot see. The scanner is able to measure the invisible and create an image of the fundamental.

I believe we carry an innate understanding or ability to perceive the invisible; that there may be some part of our subconscious that tries to decode the constant waves. But somehow we fall short of true recognition unable to perceive the full scope. We are left with anomalies such as phosphenes. Luminous images and symbols without any visual input. A flaw/cross wiring? Or a clue to the true nature of our surroundings. Whatever the explanation they seem to be innate and have impacted our communication and technology as a species. Do these symbols connect us to something greater? Is it possible to teach ourselves a process of translation in order to learn a language that is echoed in the cosmos?

To entertain the idea we could train ourselves to be more connected to this language of light, I created a deck of cards. There is a long history of teaching through use of cards as well as using them as means of spiritual conduit. They seem to bridge a gap between reason and intuition and for that reason they’re perfect tool to integrate the invisible into an embedded language. The cards contain a combination of scanned light images, corresponding phosphene symbols and their semantic connotations. I encourage the audience to engage with this deck of cards in an intuitive fashion as this is how they were created. The results of engaging with this deck is unknown but my hope is that they will at least inspire curiosity and at most help bring a morphogenetic language to the front of the brain and create a greater recognition of the invisible.