Rhodopsin 1.0




 “experience something you’ve never experienced before”

-SD City Beat

“This un-photographable sensory experience leaves you with an ethereal afterimage. Immersive, ingenious, informal and social, it's emblematic of what A Ship in the Woods brings to the San Diego scene."

–Ariel Plotek – Curator of Modern Art, San Diego Museum of Art


RHODOPSIN is an original, collaborative light installation organized by WSOHOIDPS (A SHIP IN THE WOODS) created for the 2014 ART SD Contemporary Art Fair and it embodies the foundation’s ongoing efforts to blur the lines between art and science. The singular art experience is a collaboration between WSOHOIDPS co-founder RJ Brooks, Salk Institute neurobiologist John Reynolds, sound artist Greg Smaller, Paradox design team from New School of Architecture+ Design, and researcher Daw-An Wu. Based on the research of Patrick Cavanagh, who studies visual phenomena, Rhodopsin aims to encourage visitors to think about the process of perception and consider the brain’s role in actively constructing, rather than simply relaying, reality. 

Our perceptual experience is not the direct experience of the world around us. Rather, it is the result of a constructive process, in which the brain formulates an ongoing hypothesis about the external world. Visual perception transforms the two tiny movies that constantly dance across the retinal screens on the back of each eye into the rich world we feel we inhabit. Opsins are biological pigments that reside in the photoreceptor cells of the retina, the cells that are responsible for the first events in the perception of light. Rhodopsin is the most sensitive opsin. It resides in the 120 million rod photoreceptors that sit in each of our retinae, enabling us to see in low illumination. In this exhibit, a flash of light will expose the observer to an afterimage as we create very unusual sensory conditions that will allow observers to experience the unfolding process of perceptual construction, from the photoreceptors to conscious awareness. Participants will experience a series of rich visual percepts that emerge through the interplay that takes place between our proprioceptive bodily sense and a visual system that is activated in total darkness. - John Reynolds (Salk Neurobiologist)

*Paradox: David Harrison, Julio Medina, Subrato Roy - design team from New School of Architecture + Design

*organized by RJ Brooks (co-founder of WSOHOIDPS)

Currently on display at