Private Project


Neva was born blind but has a surgery as a teenager to see for the first time. She finds the experience difficult and confusing but is guided by her surgeon and psychologist. She falls in love with color and slowly begins to engage with her new sense. Based on real case studies, Agnosia is a first-person visual interpretation of what it might seem like to see for the first time.

  • James Autery
  • James Autery
  • James Autery
  • Asia Sosnowski
    Key Cast
  • Jonathan Hyland
    Key Cast
    "Dr. Miller"
  • John Rosenthal
    Key Cast
    "Dr. Thompson"
  • Lisa Hatch
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    30 minutes 23 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    May 21, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    1,100 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - James Autery

James Autery began photographing and printing in the darkroom in high school. He attended the University of Missouri-Columbia to study photojournalism, becoming a finalist in the Gorden Parks International Photo Competition in 2006. After dropping out of college, he started documenting train hoppers and living that lifestyle for two years. In 2014 he became a full-time freelance photographer and video artist and made a mini documentary with the organization Project Prakash on their work studying the ability of prediction among children with autism. In 2017 he started filming for TIME. In 2018 he exhibited alongside Carolee Schneemann for the Hudson Winter Walk and filmed her in 2019. He has had exhibitions with Tanja Grunert Gallery, Second Ward Foundation, Film Makers Cooperative, Areté Venue and Gallery, Next to Nothing, Hudson Eye, Hudson Hall, Minneapolis Photo Center, Center for Contemporary Arts Santa Fe, and has had work listed on Paddle8. He has been an artist in residence with Second Ward Foundation for 3 years in which he completed a 46 minute film, Mantra, an experimental documentary about the meditation of making art. Mantra has screened at 6 film festivals, including DUMBO Film Festival, Blow-Up Arthouse Film Fest, and Austin Arthouse Film Festival, winning best experimental film and best sound in Rome Prisma Film Awards. He has been granted the NYSCA Electronic Media/Film fund in partnership with Wave Farm’s Media Arts Assistance Fund program. He was also a recipient of the Baer Faxt 2020 artist relief fund.

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Director Statement

This story is based on actual case studies from history–those who where born blind but had a surgery to see for the first time. Its setting is in the early 1900's, when cataract surgery had become widely adopted, but not yet for infants. The majority of the cases come from a philosophical study published in 1931, aimed at proving that the congenitally blind do not have an understanding of space, that 'space' is a visual term. Without getting too hung up on the writer's treaties, an attempt to formulate a visual representation of what it might be like to see for the first time is what I have set out to pursue.

Filmed in first-person perspective, the visual effects are based on the reports of the newly sighted, predominantly an expression of color splotches and an inability to recognize what they represent. Also sought after are the lacking of spacial relationships, facial and object recognition, and generally the translation of a tactile world into one that is novelly visual.

The dialogue is loosely excerpted from direct quotes and the story based on the techniques used to study and teach the newly sighted. Whereas most case studies find vision to be frightening and frustrating, Neva, loosely based on a particular case study, has a thoughtful and adventurous spirit which is particularly insightful into the misunderstandings of the congenitally blind.

What I personally find so fascinating about this subject is that it brings us closer to understanding the nature of human perception, and how with the gaining of only a single sense, our universe becomes an entirely different place.