In this evocative film, historian Katrien Vanagt and filmmaker Sarah Vanagt follow the experiment of the seventeenth-century physician Plempius to create a perfect image of the world through a cow’s eye.
The short film (18 min), In Waking Hours, is a film at the intersection of art and science. In their collaboration, filmmaker Sarah Vanagt follows her cousin, historian Katrien Vanagt in recreating an experiment as described by the seventeenth-century Dutch physician Vopiscus Plempius. He described how to take the eye of a cow, remove its layers at the back, and use it as a camera obscura to recreate the outside world as a perfect painting. The film begins in a darkened room in Brussels – it could as well be in the seventeenth century – where the experiment is taking place, and we find as viewers the combination of the curiosity to discover, the carefulness of a researcher, and a child’s excitement of something new and strange. The film explores notions of vision and viewing, ultimately giving the audience a chance to, literally, see the world through the eyes of another. Combining historical research with modern-day filmmaking, In Waking Hours is both an experimental art film and a treatise on early modern experiments and vision.
This event will consist of a screening of the movie as well as a discussion with the makers of the film, Sarah and Katrien Vanagt. The discussion will explore issues of historic recreation, early modern science and medicine, and contemporary film-making techniques. Comments and questions from the audience welcome!