By Luciana Haill
I am a British artist fascinated by the relationship of history, new technologies, memory & dreams. I am concerned in ‘seeing with eyes closed’ and esoteric ways of accessing ‘The Visionary’. Since having Viral Meningitis as a teenager I became fascinated with the human brain particularly because I had such a painful headaches and discovered it has no pain receptors of its own! So I began recording the brainwave (EEG) signal in the 1990s whilst studying for a degree in Interactive Art. I still am exploring consciousness & expressing the results through installations, performance, sound & drawings. I make illusory expansive environments enabling participants to access insight into their own subconscious through augmented experiences and I enjoy interviewing them about their experiences, and then to imagine the surreal and sometimes psychedelic sounding visions they describe immediately afterwards... (this is the easiest way I can describe it !)
‘I was not expecting that!’ - is the most commonly heard response.
Since 2019 I added SUBPAC to my artistic tools, guests wear one whilst having a session in front of the special ‘PandoraStar' programmable strobe light, with their eyes closed in an air-filled recliner (or even my dentist chair when possible). A heightened intermingling sensory experience occurs, time distorts, minds wander and we journey further within my professionally choreographed interactive experiences. SUBPAC is a much-anticipated addition - feeling sound enables the production of synaesthetic artworks I planned way back in the 90s, this phenomenon is now tangible, and in my work I find this deepens the transformative process. There are exciting correlations seeing real-time changes in brainwaves I am just beginning to witness when I induce Gamma brainwaves at 40-55Hz simultaneously as Theta at 4-8Hz. I am excited by what we will see in the EEG with just SubPac stimulations in experimental research soon. Most recently as a duo ‘Per Diem’ we chose to composed new soundtracks to specifically accompany a 15 minute Pandora fuelled ‘Digital LSD/DMT’ experience for 'Hackstock V’ with SUBPAC. We sampled Raymond Scott with my improvised piano playing into an abstract amalgamation of the themes to Superman, Star Wars and Third Encounters for the Sci-Fi audience.
My work assimilates live brainwave feedback (implementing neuroscience, hypnosis & meditation techniques I study) with some pre-determined stimuli and compositional stems waiting to be triggered. It has been described as ‘a seance in technology’, which I take as a compliment. In the 1950s Dr Grey Walter was the first to use strobe lights within controlled research into Epilepsy, and I owe a lot of my creative work to medical pioneers such as him. A paper I authored ‘How did ordinary tools in the Neurophysiology department become a means for spiritual enlightenment’ was published in 2013 when I was using classic ‘Dreamachines’ by Brion Gysin from the 1960s. Then the PandoraStar white light strobe lamp came into my life in 2016 adding a whole new level of programmability- it enables me to deliver white light flickering stimulation choreographed by a sequencer for spectacular sessions that can give insight, induce visions, stimulate certain brainwaves that are more dominant during meditative & altered states (such as within a vivid/lucid dream.)
‘Digital LSD’ can be experienced in public events and by private individuals & corporate clients, who seek personal insight using the EEG, strobe, SUBPAC and other wearable light and sound tools. I have participated in Lucid Dreaming retreats in Oahu Hawaii twice with the pioneer Dr Stephen LaBerge, meditation in India & New York recently and explored states changes for over 10 years consecutively with the guests of Dr Richard Bandler on his NLP and Shamanic course. By recombining some of the techniques I have experienced from experts in their fields I can give individuals a qualitative experience once they pass the medical consent form (migraines / photosensitive epilepsy ) and later we can review their brainwave changes. These experiential artworks are simulacra of clinical therapy instead they deliver monitored and personalised doses of ‘Cyberdelic’ treatments in a session. Ultimately I have 1000s of brainwave recordings and 100s of subjective light influenced stories.. yet to be transmuted into more creative outputs, and yours could be the next one!
*ICT & Art Connect : Revelations by Flicker, Dreamachines and Electroencephalographic signals in art : http://doc.gold.ac.uk/aisb50/AISB50-S12/AISB50-S12-Haill-paper.pdf
I am an honorary fellow in the Department of Psychology for Greenwich University and lecture part time for Digital Media Art MA course in Brighton University. My work explores consciousness and the results are expressed through digital media, performance, sound & drawing. Crossing boundaries between new technology, creativity and research – with dreams, the brain and the unconscious being recurring inspirations. My talks and performances have taken place internationally and I have gone on to create installations and performances internationally at major venues, including The Royal Academy, The Royal Institution, Watermans Gallery in Kew, The Sage in Gateshead,The Waag Society in Amsterdam, CENART in Mexico City, Orlando, Mumbai & in The Kinetica Art Fair in London.
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