Nwando Ebizie’s latest art project explores her own neurodivergency: A Visual Snow Alternate Reality

British-Nigerian multidisciplinary artist Nwando Ebizie creates Afrofuturist speculative fictions and alternate realities at the intersection of live art, experimental music and multi-sensory installations. She proposes new myths, rituals and provocations for perceptual change, radical care and transformation of the self and community, drawing from science fiction, Black Atlantic ritual cultures, biophilia, neuroscience, her own neurodivergency and Nigerian heritage. 

Distorted Constellations Vol 2: A Visual Snow Alternate Reality is a 360 immersive short film and Instagram filter. The short film is populated by multiple manifestations embodying forces of nature through her signature artistic hybrid of live art, dance, music and Afrodiasporic ritual. Presented by Forma and The Space, the project expresses a spectrum of Visual Snow Syndrome symptoms reimagined as luminous and sonic phenomena. 

Onset photos from the filming of ‘Something Like Empathy’ by Nwando Ebizie

Visual Snow Syndrome describes the permanent presence of disruptions such as static, trails, auras, starburst, and pointillist dots in a person’s vision, alongside sensory disturbances including tinnitus and ocular migraines. Currently considered rare, it is a little known neurological condition in the early stages of research by the scientific community. Nwando Ebizie, says:   

“One of the main reasons for this project is to propose the idea that perception (perception in this case means the overview of the vast array of sensory information that is gathered by the brain and projected out onto reality) underpins our sense of reality – it is fundamental to who we are and how we experience the world. All humans sit somewhere on a neurodiverse spectrum – our brains are unique. Our own unique neurology has an implicit effect on perception of the world – forming bias, prejudices and the way we see our place in the world.

I propose acceptance of a neurodiverse spectrum as a radical way to make changes in society. To create a society which grants all diversity, space to flourish.”

Audiences are invited to locate representations of their own perceptions, engage with new possibilities, and share their experiences across social media.

Produced in collaboration with designers, filmmakers and technical experts, the short film is a visualisation tool, a provocation on difference and a transgressive experience encouraging interaction and reflection in both virtual and physical space. Combining fully immersive points of view, spatialized sound reactivity and cutting edge video processing and SFX, each viewing will offer unique possibilities for exploration and engagement by visitors.

Onset photos from the filming of ‘Something Like Empathy’ by Nwando Ebizie

The film features Nwando’s genre-bending original song ‘Something Like Empathy (Visual Snow)’ from her debut album The Swan, an Afrofuturist work of sonic fiction into the imagined world of a matriarchal community, to be released on Matthew Herbert’s Accidental Records early 2022. 

Neurodiversity as a topic is not necessarily easily discussed within the Black community. A way of arguably bringing this conversation to the forefront is by educating others to prevent symptoms and cases from being overlooked. Nwando shared her own experience, and the importance of the work that she does as a Black woman:

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“Since I was a child, I was somebody that always questioned things and I was definitely shut down. There is this fear as a Black parent or immigrant child to stand out or as long as you’re doing well at school all this other stuff does not matter. And more recently when working on my project, my family have seen the exhibitions. When my family came to my exhibition one auntie mentioned she thought she also experiences Visual Snow syndrome and that my Grandma does as well; since then her children have also began to experience this. So know I am now doing the work to bring these topics to the forefront.”

“The journey of self-acceptance is important to me, starting to look at Visual Snow material started my journey of speaking to autism over the last three years. I have been going through this autism assessment process with NHS, and I have been diagnosed as autistic. When I brought this to my mum she was questioning why I was going through the assessments. For me, its not really about saying there is something wrong with me, my understanding of neurodiversity is that there is no normal when it comes to brains.”

This new iteration of Nwando Ebizie’s Distorted Constellations continues the multidisciplinary artist’s commitment to Afrofuturism and sensory ritual as powerfully subversive practices and a means of connecting with each other and ourselves. The work is transformed for 2021, but  retains the enduring belief that transcends all its forms; reality is subjective, perception is fallible and how we experience the world is due to our own specific neurology.

Watch Distorted Constellations Vol 2: A Visual Snow Alternate Reality below:

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