Amy Cannestra

Residency: Aspirus 03

27 May – 24 June 2013


Primarily a video artist, the current research of Amy Cannestra (USA), is an intense look at pain from three different perspectives. She has recently been working with two different neuroscientists; one that looks at pain through fMRI technology, and one that looks at pain in a cell by cell comparison; the third point of view is emotional. Each version of pain is very different from one another, but at the same time always affects what and how we feel.

It has been said, that no matter how we try, we can never experience how another person feels pain. Cannestra would like to challenge that idea and in order to explore this she will examine the same story, told by a variety of individuals in different voices (first, second and third person), and intertwine them to take out the subjective nature of the story.

If the subject is removed, will the viewer relate more or less? Will the story become less about what they are seeing and more about the personal experience that the story evokes, or vice versa?

The ‘story’ to be used derives from a combination of writings by neuroscientist Oliver Sacks. He writes reports of different case studies that look at brain trauma and the way that this changes how a person perceives the world, including how one perceives pain. These stories are written in such a way that they are easy to digest and never too ‘scientific.’ It’s easy to relate the stories to the self.

The project Cannestra aims to carry out while she is in Manchester is based on the above. The original video files will be individuals reading the ‘story’. Each individual will read the story in a few different voices which will then be edited into three or four different versions. The sound will be the only constant between each of the videos. Not only will the videos be compiled to be different people and different versions of the same ‘story;’ but Cannestra will also create a grid system that represents the same structure that scientists use to look at fMRI images. This grid will introduce the unpredictable and uneasy feeling that pain and discomfort bring to us and those around us on a daily basis.