Alex Neish

Still from a film by artist Alex Neish

Thoughts construct our self-identity. All that we are is the result of what we have thought. They greet us from the moment we wake and stay with us, narrating and commentating on our lives, until we drift off to sleep. From these weightless and ephemeral phantoms, we craft stories concerning the nature of our self-identity. The most familiar tale being that we are individuals, whose personhoods are limited to a single body existing in space and time.

However, this story woven by thoughts – of individuals or plural selves – can be unraveled in the same way they were constructed. This is the position of the classical Indian philosophy of Advaita Vedānta. That through a radical epistemic shift in perspective, it is possible to perceive a fundamental unity – termed brahman – underlying the apparent multiplicity of selves, rewriting the familiar story of individuals isolated from one another.

My practice is concerned with exploring these stories constructed by thoughts about our identity and selfhood. Engaging with Western and Eastern philosophical notions of personal identity, I make point-of-view virtual reality films that question the premises of both within the fictional minds of my characters because this is where constructions about selfhood take place. The film – Brahman – that I have been working on for the last year follows four friends interacting at a dinner party and articulating their inner thoughts. As the film progresses, ambiguity arises about where their personal boundaries begin and where they end. At Sardines, you will see an excerpt from the film: Brahman’s Rehearsal, which explores the grief-stricken consciousness of one of the friends, Steve.

Instagram: @master_0f_the_universe