Are we still able to focus in a world so full of stimuli?

Words by

Seb Agnew

© Seb Agnew | Syncope

Syncope (the medical term for "fainting" or "passing out") examines the feeling of "being disoriented" and puts it into the context of our modern everyday life: Again and again, we lose track of what is happening around us – and when we concentrate the most, we often find ourselves thinking about nothing at all.

© Seb Agnew | Syncope

This metaphorical temporary loss of consciousness has become a daily companion for many people in our fast-paced and complex society. Are we still able to focus in a world so full of stimuli? And how do we deal with ongoing as well as upcoming personal and societal challenges?

© Seb Agnew | Syncope

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The series Syncope originated on a normal day in 2017 when I was preparing my breakfast. This morning, I caught myself breaking eggs very intuitively into the dustbin instead of the frying pan. And, more absurdly, I only took notice of it when I closed the dustbin, opened the fridge and tried to put the dustbin in it. Obviously – and luckily! – it didn't fit, but it struck me right away how concentrated I was thinking about something totally different and that I did not realize what I was doing right at that moment.

© Seb Agnew | Syncope

I cannot precisely say why I was so distracted this morning, but I guess nowadays, there is so much overstimulation everywhere that it just happens to us every now and then, and I don't just relate to people constantly staring at their smartphones and forgetting the world around them, but I notice it happening in many different settings and situations. Some time later, I visited the "Old Operating Theatre" in London (which is about the history of medicine and surgery), where I stumbled upon the word Syncope – which is the medical term for fainting or blacking out – and this happened to be the beginning of the series.

© Seb Agnew | Syncope
Seb Agnew is a photo artist based in Hamburg, Germany. Within staged and often dreamlike sceneries, he explores the human psyche and our modern society. Disorientation, momentary solitude, and lonesome reflection are recurring themes within Seb's conceptual body of work. His images are strongly characterized by elaborate set design, distinctive lighting and carefully arranged composition. In order to create his surreal, mysterious and cinematic settings, Seb transforms whole rooms or builds his locations completely as miniature sets in which he later integrates his life-size models. During his studies of Audiovisual Media (B.Eng.) in Stuttgart, Germany, Seb specialized in photography and post-production to lay the foundations of his future work. In order to pass on his skills professionally, he later studied Vocational Education (M.Ed., B.Sc.) at the University of Hamburg, Germany. Today, Seb is excited to be able to work independently as a photo artist and to teach aspiring photographers at the Vocational School for Media and Communication in Hamburg, Germany.

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