OUTSHIFT is led by lens-based artist Rachel Henson with UI developer Neil Manuell. We design site-specific paper and digital interactives tailored for connective attention to land, showing work in situ, or in ways that implicate the viewer’s physicality. Work includes sets of paper flick books as point-of-view navigation tools, mutoscopes installed in situ as hand-cranked augmented-reality, and an optical device installed in biodiverse environments that plays with our visual perception.
OUTSHIFT has been commissioned by natural and heritage organisations, National Trust and Natural England and festivals in the UK and abroad. Residencies include The Living Coast Biosphere, Blast Theory and Lighthouse.
Observing a shift in attention and connection while walking, Rachel made point-of-view photo-sequences of the walker moving in relation to their environment and of phenomena that capture gaze. Subsequently she read of perceptive shifts while walking into land, long-described by Indigenous authorities, shifts between ‘background and foreground’ ‘the feet on the ground and the ground on the feet,’ and the Yolngu term ‘shimmer,’ which describes the way the eye is captured by the ‘rippling intra-activity’ of lively relationships honed over millennia (Deborah Bird Rose, ‘Shimmer’ Edinburgh University Press, 2022). Western theories from philosophy and psychology to plant science and human biology that describe multi-sensory moving-in-relation-to as key to cognition resonate with these knowledges.
Neil Manuell is a senior developer currently working in UI systems for AAA console games. With OUTSHIFT he created an app allowing users to interact intuitively with moving-image sequences, a Kinect hack where viewers trigger moving-image by walking towards and away from a projection and a haptic navigation device worn against the chest as a direction-sensitive heartbeat.