Meet our #Warrioroftheweek, Yoni Chepisheva 💙
Spotlight on: Yoni Chepisheva
A warm summer night, where the sky was dark indigo blue and covered with a tapestry of stars, down at the south coast of England. Summer of 2020 and it was at a gathering of astrophotographers under the stars, when a photographer friend nudged me to look at his camera:
‘Hey let me show you a great trick on my camera on how to shoot moving vehicles! See the light trails when I hit the shutter?
‘Yes, I see them.’
‘Isn’t it wonderful how I can adjust the shutter speed and it can visualise for me the shape of the car’s motion!’
‘Well yes, but… isn’t this how we see anyway?’
‘No, that’s not how we… wait, what?..’
It was at that moment we looked at each other equally confused and that’s when I realised not everyone could see the shape and motion of light, nor any afterimages either for that matter.
Three years ago, it all made sense. How I had been going through life, struggling to manage with daily tasks, with reading, with watching movies, with eating too. I honestly thought the world was this fantastical blur of a combination between dark colours not being ever solid, but always full of speck, dust and sparkle, and distorted ghostly inversions of everything. A world where any light stimuli that moved would render a beautiful sweeping extrusion of that stimuli until I couldn’t make sense of it because it was that oversaturated and overlaid with continuous afterimages. It all made sense – I was always told I was so slow back in school, and always distracted, and seemingly uninterested in the subjects, when in fact, I was struggling with the reality that I was still stuck on the text on page 1 when all my peers would readily turn to page 2 and move on with the content. I have always wondered how they managed their ‘afterimages’ symptoms while reading – you see, traditionally we read a body of black text on a white(ish) page.
But the second I lay my eyes on any type of text and move my eyes, the black body of text would invert to white and the white(ish) page would invert to near black. This multiplication of afterimages after afterimages, after afterimages made me wonder why I was not good enough but it all made sense three years ago. The way I perceived the world wasn’t the ‘normal’ way and now I wonder whether my friends had ever seen the blue sky turning orange, the lush red apple turning green, and the shining stars in the sky inverting to carbon grey?..
The resilience I had developed helped me make a big decision a year ago as I was half-way through my Masters at University of the Arts, London as I decided, similarly to the Visual Snow Initiative, to start my own on palinopsia. A year later, I have found a small community of people who suffer from it too and they feel lonely, a little afraid and very misunderstood. My art, my creative storytelling work therefore is based on retelling the stories of pain using visual media, our most immediate type of media. I use digital tools, photography and algorithm-based apps to collage the very realistic overlays of all the daily environments that I get to experience. Now, more people have joined me on my journey to helping others with palinopsia.
My friend Trystan from the Johnny Carson Centre for Emerging Media Arts, Nebraska, is developing the AR/VR element in order to make the symptoms feel more realistic. I am proud of the team of creatives that have joined me on my journey as they all chose creativity for the betterment of people’s state of being. We might not know all the answers to this problem, but we are laying the foundations perhaps for a future generation of creatives to be inspired by and find a solution one day.
While I am facing challenges along the way and am not always understood, I have learned to appreciate each second and each thing I get to look at because it will never be exactly as it was a second ago. Since that warm summer night back in 2020, I have been waking up excited about opening my eyes to a new day, a new start and to all the hypervisual environments I will get to experience.