“If You Are Not There, Where Are You?”
A multisensory experience of absence epilepsy
Transmedia documentary maker Maartje Nevejan’s work, in her own words, “researches and expresses the raw poetic quality of reality.”
Her most recent project is called “If You Are Not There, Where Are You?” The outspoken aim is to try and “find a language for the multisensory experience of absence epilepsy, or: a brief moment of ‘not being there’. And if you are not there, where are you?”
Science has until now maintained that there is no conscious experience during such ‘absences.’ But Nevejan herself has a different experience: she vividly remembers seeing specific images and events during her own absences as a child.
Nevejan’s project, on which she worked the past four years, endeavors to “research the experience of absences at the crossroads between art and science, to give words and images to the unexplainable.” She has talked to scientists, artists and people who have experienced absences, connected sufferers and artists to find specific visual languages for their experiences, and used every medium at her disposal to give form to a great variety of viewpoints on this mysterious phenomenon. The result is an intricate mix of documentary movie (aired on Dutch national TV last Wednesday), art exhibition, VR environments and an informative website.
Last week, the project won the 2019 Jury Award at the InScience Film festival in Nijmegen, one of the largest science film festivals in Europe.
If You Are Not There, Where Are You?, Maartje Nevejan, 2019