Sin City's Hottest New Club is The Octave of Visible Light
By Samantha Katz
It isn’t very often that, in the city of sin, new age nightclubs are associated with neuroscience. So when Las Vegas hotel, The Cosmopolitan, invited Lia Chavez to participate in its artist-in-resident program she leapt at the opportunity to develop an entirely new type of visceral experience for their guests, by combining art, science, and technology with contemplative practice.
“The Octave of Visible Light: A Meditation Nightclub” offers visitors a break from the usual spectacle on the strip, trading perspiration and pulsation for calmness and cadence by utilizing human consciousness as an art material. Working with creative company rehabstudio, Chavez invented a revolutionary digital-neurology technology that allows the user to observe the relationship between their brainwaves and corresponding frequencies. After a one-on-one introspective session with the artist, participants wear an electroencephalograph (EEG) headset, which transmits a custom-coded signal to an audio visual system, translating the results into hypnotic light sculptures and chakra-healing music.
“Throughout my visual and performance work, I appropriate cross-cultural contemplative disciplines for the purpose of achieving natural and sustainable expansions of perception,” Chavez said. It is fitting then, that in a place where the surreal is sought-ought, she would craft an environment for those disinterested in distinguishing the real from the imagined. The installation is designed for open-eye meditation, so it is both sensual and ocular for the audience, generating an incredibly profound experience that optically bewilders and hypnotizes.
Aesthetically, “The Octave of Visible Light” was inspired by Dante’s final vision of paradise, illustrated in The Divine Comedy, as he encounters a light that surpasses the perceptual capacity of the human eye:
But now my will and my desire, like
with an even motion, were turning with
the Love that moves the sun and all the
Chavez is no stranger to experimenting with advanced technology in the name of art. Last October, during Frieze Week, she presented “Tumult,” a 4-hour meditation performance in which she crafted a vertiginous environment by using light to convey the flickering visibility of one’s interior sense of self. Some participants became so frightened by the psychological effect that they ran out of the installation.
The public response to “The Octave of Visible Light,” however, has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, with guests traveling from all over the country for simply 10 minutes with Chavez. One woman—an experienced meditator—even boasted that the experience helped her reach “the next level.” And Piers Fawkes, the editor of L:SN Global described it as “engulfing and eternal.”