The Molyneux Problem
The Molyneux Problem deals with dreams of blind-born people: do they relate to visually based imagination? How do they sound? And how do narrative structures form in the dreams of people who never had eyesight and whose subconscious mind does not express itself in images?
The title of the project is based on a philosophical question raised by the British natural philosopher William Molyneux from 1688 that addresses the issue of human cognition on the basis of sightlessness: would a blind-born person, given the ability to see through surgery, be able to distinguish a cube from a sphere just by sight alone? or must they be felt in order to be assigned correctly? Molyneux’s problem is one of the several questions of perception theory and remains unsolved until today.
The starting point of the project was a series of interviews which Katharina Schmitt conducted with people who were born without eyesight in 2016 in Vienna and in Prague. Based on this series of interviews and the resulting audio material, Katharina Schmitt worse a text, whilst Michal Rataj created a composition, describing a darkroom in which a blind woman meets a man who is able to see.
The Molyneux Problem deals with the confrontation between visuality and haptics, in a performance that initially denies its viewers visuality in a completely darkened space. The focus on haptics, sound and spatial tension enables us to question the superiority of the visual. How much does one see, when one sees? How much does one see, when one doesn’t see anything?