Directed by Mark Cousins • Documentary • 2021 • 87 minutes
On the day before an operation to save his eyesight, filmmaker Mark Cousins explores what looking means to him, and the role our visual experience plays in our individual and collective lives. In a deeply personal meditation on the power of looking in his own life, he guides us through the riches of the visible world, through a kaleidoscope of imagery across cultures and eras, drawing on art history, biology, neuroscience, psychology, poetry and philosophy. As he goes under the surgeon's knife, he suggests that we are in the midst of a looking revolution more powerful than any which has gone before, which has the potential to change the world — for better or for worse.
At a time when we are more assailed by images than ever, when the value of looking is increasingly under question, he reveals how looking makes us who we are, lying at the heart of human experience, of empathy, discovery and thought. He shares the pleasures of seeing the world, in all its complexity and contradiction, with eyes wide open. And as the Covid-19 pandemic brings another dramatic shift of perspective, he reaches out to other lookers for their vision from lockdown. And in a startling final shift, he travels to the future to consider how his looking life will continue to develop until the very end.