The Octave of Visible Light: A Meditation Nightclub

The Octave of Visible Light: A Meditation Nightclub. Live performance installation presented in partnership with Art Production Fund at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. January 7 - February 8, 2015. Pigmented Ink Print. 16 x 10 5/8 inches. Edition of 5. Photo by Samuel Cox. © Lia Chavez

The Octave of Visible Light: A Meditation Nightclub. Live performance installation presented in partnership with Art Production Fund at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. January 7 - February 8, 2015. Pigmented Ink Print. 16 x 10 5/8 inches. Edition of 5. Photo by Samuel Cox. © Lia Chavez

How do we achieve higher levels of awareness of what we’re experiencing without compromising the experience itself? 

 — Lia Chavez

Presented in partnership with Art Production Fund at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in early 2015, The Octave of Visible Light: A Meditation Nightclub is a pop-up nightclub through which Chavez envisaged a futuristic discotheque that comes alive through the phenomenon of biofeedback. This work is a step further into her investigation into the ephemeral wavelengths, impasto textures, and glimmering awareness corollary to what she calls "the art material of consciousness." The Octave of Visible Light invites the viewer to plunge into the wondrous nature of oscillatory resonance throughout the universe by way of a unique fusion of performance art, neuroscience, and technological invention.

Chavez is known for work that probes the rich and mysterious relationship between light and consciousness. For The Octave of Visible Light, she invented a revolutionary digital-neurology system in collaboration with the creative technology company rehabstudio which allows guests to observe the relationship between their neural oscillations and corresponding frequencies in both light and sound. Brainwaves are harnessed to orchestrate an immersive atmosphere of sonic resonance and sculptural light which references the transcendental sensation described in Dante’s final vision of paradise in The Divine Comedy

Hailed by the New York Times as "mesmerizing" and PSFK as "engulfing and eternal," this work addresses the contemporary struggle to calm the manic mental landscape while remaining engaged with one's surroundings. The artist presents the viewer with a sensually lavish encounter with light and sound intended to seduce the viewer into an inwardly contemplative state. 

The experience draws upon Sir Isaac Newton’s synesthetic theories of concurrent frequencies and the field of bio-resonance frequency therapy. Featuring pre-recorded vocals by Erika Spring (Au Revoir Simone), low frequency waveforms are noninvasively delivered to the body, resulting in profound synchronization of the brain’s right and left hemispheres. Guests are invited to wear an EEG headset and Chavez guides them through a brief meditation session. The headset reads their brainwaves and, via Bluetooth, transmits a custom-coded signal to the audio visual system. The signal’s frequency and strength mirrors the participant’s brainwave activity, which is reflected in the intensity and register of the colour and sound emitted by the system. As a result, each audio-visual ‘set’ is unique to the person wearing the headset. The deeper the meditation, the more fully the viewer is able to traverse the spectra of visible light and audible sound.

By creating carefully choreographed correlations between neurobiological, sonic, and visual resonances, The Octave of Visible Light generates real time feedback for the guest to observe and reciprocate. Light and sound are guides to ecstatic states of meditative intensity, thus empowering the viewer to explore the role consciousness can play in sculpting and stabilizing our bodies and environment. 

The installation features code and hardware development by Samuel Cox and rehabstudio; electronic composition by Andrew Gaskins; vocals by Erika Spring; sound design by Sweetwater; curatorial development by Tali Wertheimer; and neuroscience consultation by Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharya and Dr. Caroline Di Bernardi Luft.

The artist-in-residence program at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas represents one component of its larger art program, in which artists create projects that are interactive and participatory, giving guests the opportunity to connect at an authentic and personal level. Developed and curated in partnership with Art Production Fund, a non-profit organization dedicated to producing ambitious public art projects, it strives to reach new audiences and expand awareness through contemporary art.