Interview with Dr Tereza Stehlikova: Journey to the Interior

imagination geology senses

Hi Tereza, can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Along with being attached to the University of Westminster as a senior lecturer in Moving Image and a researcher at the Royal College of Art, I am also a filmmaker working in digital media. I am part of an international network of artists called Sensory Sites, which I set up in 2009. We work in and with unique spaces and are interested in creating a dialogue with their particular genius loci.

How did you get into the sensory stratosphere?

Almost 10 years ago I embarked on my PhD in how to evoke tactility through image and sound. The Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer was the key inspiration behind this. I also had experience in working in CGI which frustrated me, it didn’t feel real, because there was no tactile connection. At the same time I watched my daughter learning the world through touching and using her senses and it got me thinking.

The next shift came through an introduction to Charles Spence and Charles Michel in 2013, which led to an Icelandic Feast: an immersive, multisensory banquet and participatory art project. I discovered the joy of using food, the most multisensory medium, in my performances, to “evoke and provoke essential states of the mind that otherwise cannot be evoked” FT Marinetti.

What can people look forward to with your event at the festival?

Using the success of the Icelandic Feast based on William Morris’s journey to Iceland, I continued my interest in sensory perception and landscape. Can one evoke a journey by means of food, literally ingesting a landscape? My multisensory performance “Journey to the Interior” based on Jules Verne’s story, will lead participants on a sensory journey using all their senses, to stimulate their imagination and reveal hidden worlds. I will also create a short film of the journey, to allow those who weren’t able to be there to experience it.

How would you describe it in three words?

Imagination, Geology, Senses.

 Why did you get involved with the Open Senses Festival?

I got involved because I passionately believe that we need to pay more attention to our senses! Our senses are the gateway to our experience of reality. By sharpening our senses we can become more awake, more alive, more aware. Art and poetry can help us.

Why should visitors join your ‘Journey to the Interior’?

Come to play, reawaken your imagination on an impossible journey! You will be encouraged to use all your senses to guide you along a fantastical journey, through the sediments of memories and through the strata of your own imagination. What you discover will to come extent depend on you.

What else are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?

I would love to attend everything, but realistically I will most likely spend the weekend preparing everything for Sunday! But can’t miss the Symposium!

Where would you like to see Open Senses progress to?

I would love to see it as an international concept taken to different cities. I would like to see schools and universities to get involved and for it to be ongoing; a sustained effort that generates collaborative projects.

How would you like your work to cultivate in the future?

I want to continue along these lines. I like collaboration. Being a film maker, it can get quite isolating and the collaborative aspect allows for a fascinating creative process. I will continue my sensory workshops as a space for creative dialogue to happen. I will keep my eyes, ears, nose, skin, and tongue tuned to what is happening around me, and look for ways of weaving new stories in performance and film. And of course, I will work on turning Journey to the Interior into a film!

What three words would you use to describe how you feel about the festival?

Playfulness, interconnection, openness.

Anything else you’d like to mention not yet covered?

I will also be presenting my short film 'Dinner for Deep Surface Divers' at the Symposium.

See you there!

Start your own conversation @OpenSensesUK #OpenSenses2017, this conversation initiated by Natasha Blok.