Rhodopsin 2.0

RHODOPSIN is an original light and sound installation organized by WSOHOIDPS (A SHIP IN THE WOODS) which first premiered at ARTSD’14.  We have asked architect and artist Patrick Shields to help create a revised version of the installation for this years WoW Festival.  This project is an ongoing collaboration between WSOHOIDPS, Salk Institute neurobiologist John Reynolds, sound artist Greg Smaller and vision scientist Patrick Cavanagh. 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)



Limited Edition LP Vinyl Record 

This record is a collection of ambient work by Greg Smaller (LABS) and draws from the Rhodopsin installation conceived by WSOHOIDPS.




Patrick Shields was born Washington D.C. He currently lives and works in Southern California.

His practice consists of experimental drawing, objects making, and the creation of site specific installations. Trained in graphic arts and architecture, he is currently pursuing an MFA at UCSD.

His works evolve in a practice consisting of teaching, curriculum development, commercial commissions, and exhibition. Past research has focused on material, fabrication, products design, and technology in collaborations with architecture firms, design agencies, and artist groups. He has worked across the United States, Japan, New Zealand, and in Europe. He currently holds an teaching position at the Woodbury School of Architecture and a research position at UCSD's robotic laboratory.






Greg Smaller

b. South Africa 1985

Greg Smaller, is interested in improvisation and repetition. 

       Repetition, is Greg Smaller interested in improvisation. 

             Smaller, is repetition and interested in Greg improvisation.



                                        Sound/Art < Food 



John Reynolds

John Reynolds, PhD is the Fiona and Sanjay Jha Chair in Neuroscience at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California.  He collaborated on the Rhodopsin exhibit and serves as Scientific Advisor to the Board of Directors of the Foundation.  The long-range goal of Dr. Reynolds’ research is to understand the neural mechanisms underlying perception and attention.  This understanding is helping to lay the foundation for efforts to treat brain disorders in which these mechanisms fail, such as autism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.  Through his involvement in A Ship in the Woods, Dr. Reynolds explores dimensions of perception that are at the boundary of what is known scientifically about the perceiving brain.


Patrick Cavanagh

I received a Bachelor of Engineering in Communications from McGill University, Montreal in 1968. An interest in artificial intelligence led to a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Carnegie-Mellon in 1972. I taught at the Université de Montréal in Psychology until 1989 and since then I have been at the Department of Psychology at Harvard. I recently joined the faculty at the Université Paris Descartes and changed my status at Harvard to a Research Professor. My earliest interests centered on short-term memory and neural models of associative memory and these projects evolved into my research in vision. Current projects examine the contribution of various features such as shadow, color, motion, and texture to representations of form, the nature of internal codes for shape, how these codes are stored and how they guide the construction of internal models of the three-dimensional world.

I am also interested in the role of attention in selecting or creating visual representations and in particular in the idea of attentional sprites as animation agents for understanding motions of familiar objects.