Monika Malewska
The Cereal Numbers Series
 
This series of photographs replicates individual plates based on the Ishihara Test for Color Perception, a test for red-green color deficiencies used as a standard by optometrists.  The test consists of a series of individual plates, each of which features a colorful circle comprised of numerous small circles of varying sizes and colors.  To viewers with normal vision, the contrasting colors of some of the small circles create a pattern that reveals a numeric shape. 
 
As a visual artist, I am fascinated by the notion that people who experience color blindness often remain completely unaware they are not seeing something in the same way that those with “normal” vision see it until some revelatory moment in their life.  There is something delightfully paradoxical in the idea that they arrive at this understanding of difference without actually “seeing” it.
 
Yet, as somebody who works with color and light, I am leery of anything that suggests empirical certainty.  Whereas the Ishihara Test offers a standard for comparison, and by extension, a feeling of objective reality, the individual color plates in my reconstructions of the test--fashioned out of breakfast cereal pieces—playfully prod viewers to ask fundamental questions about the epistemology of human experience.
 
My Cereal Numbers photographs refer to the subjectivity of perception as it applies not only to vision, but other senses, such as taste. On a neurological level, they play with how the stimulation of one sensory cognitive pathway can lead to an automatic involuntary experience in a second cognitive pathway, creating a synaesthetic experience.  The vivid colors of the circles can generate both visual and taste associations (lexical-gustatory synaesthesia).  Each individual color in a breakfast cereal mix is linked to a fruit flavor, and this is supposed to enhance our perception of different fruity flavors of each cereal ring.  In short, the colors of the cereal pieces tend to contribute to the illusion of flavor, again reminding us that things are rarely (if ever) what they seem.
 
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