There is an light that can be observed only when the eyes are closed and the mind is intently focused; in this performance, I seek to collect and share it.
— Lia Chavez
Luminous Objects is a performance in which Chavez delves ever more deeply into questions of visual perception, the mysterious nature of interior space, and the role of lens-based technologies in mediating how we see and understand the universe. The piece was commissioned and presented by the Armory Show in 2013. In 2014, it was presented at SPRING/BREAK Art Show.
For Luminous Objects, Chavez combines contemplative practice and neuroscience to investigate the frontier of visual perception. She utilizes the practice of durational meditation to cultivate gamma wave activity in her brain. The accumulation of this particular neural activity generates dazzling, primordial visions within her mind's eye. She sustains an observation of the radiant aesthetics of her inner optical realm, and in the style of a reporter, periodically shares her visions with the audience in the form of calligraphic drawings. Throughout the performance — which has lasted up to ten hours a day for two weeks continually— the viewer is invited to witness the detailed topography of her imagination as it evolves.
With a title referencing astrophysics, Luminous Objects captures the primal action of time and the motion of bodies in space. A “luminous object” in the world of physics refers to an entity, such as a star, which is capable of generating its own light. Hubble Ultra-Deep Field imagery collects the light of such objects by focusing a Wide Field Camera into seemingly vacant portions of outer space. Lengthy durations of exposure reveal black fields to be teeming with the ancient light of the first galaxies. As she has trained her mind to meditate for lengthy durations of time, the artist has discovered that the gradual intensification of brainwaves enables her to access a similar superabundance of otherworldly visions — but within the realm of her interior space.
Luminous Objects belongs to Chavez's ongoing investigation into the depths of human consciousness and the wondrous nature of what she calls “the inner cosmos.” Working with the idiom of photography, Chavez becomes analogous to a camera lens, exploring the inception of the creative spark by delving deeply into a state in which her mind is penetrated by a type of light for which science has only recently begun to account. Of the process she has stated, "In durational meditation, I experience cataclysmic visions of vortices, fibers of electricity, clouds of short-lived photons, cascading firebolts, and embryonic stars. It's a process of observing passionate dances between the elements…storms of consciousness as they develop and diminish over a passage of time.”