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Dumb Eyes/Penetration - Kaleidoscopic Visuals

An audiovisual acid-trip born out of the art landscape of Seattle

Penetration is a freaky multimedia experience with jarringly vivid colours and haunting audio, held as a monthly spectacle of a night set to kaleidoscopic visuals which play out over four imposing screens, curated by graphic design and web company Dumb Eyes. The group comprises Brit Christian Peterson and his colleagues Michael Ellsworth and Corey Gutch in Seattle. It ran for a year at a bar called Bus Stop before moving to its current location in the city, the aptly psychedelically named Unicorn, where it has been for around six months.

Originally from Surrey, Peterson escaped the crushingly hyper competitive culture of London’s creative industries by moving to Seattle in 2007. He says, “London was destroying my soul. I'd mainly watched Neighbours and eat Sainsbury's value ready salted crisps for ten years after college. Breaking into anything in London was just too daunting for me. I've always been terrible at selling myself and I think you really have to be totally on top of that stuff in London to make it''. Relocating gave Peterson the space and freedom to exercise his ideas in a way that was totally organic, his creativity filling out into the void of his environment rather than being overshadowed and outshone. Instead of feeling hemmed-in by the London graphic design scene, Seattle’s grey skies and it’s equally uncompelling art landscape sparked Peterson into a reactive inspiration driving him to provoke Seattle to push further.

“The Seattle art scene can be very insular, satisfied to be popular within the boundaries of its own clique, with not much ambition to move beyond this. There doesn't seem to be much interest in the diverse and interesting things that are happening in the rest of the world. This is why there are very few world-class artists, illustrators and photographers from here. Seattle is still very open to music though so I thought this would be a good format to help spread the word.”
Peterson, who is also the editor of I Want You magazine, hands out prismatic glasses at Penetration where he admittedly often “clears the floor” with his far-out musical taste, but enjoys “the challenge of winning people over again”. For the visual work, he says, “I am inspired by any psychedelic art that works in the way it's supposed to. For a while I tried to make the most hectic, haemorrhage-inducing stuff possible but recently I’ve moved into a more mellow trippy zone but the craziness will return at some point.”

Those who are unsettled by the Petersen’s visual assault would be right to sense creepy undertones in the vivid dancing colours. Despite the glorious neons and up-beat rhythms, the inspirations that underpin his work are quite macabre. “I worked in a butchers shop from the age of 11,” he explains, “Then when I was 16 I started working in a ward for old people in a hospital in Chertsey. Blood and death, these things have informed everything I have done ever since.”

PENETRATION: One from Dumb Eyes on Vimeo.