Tumult , 2014 .  Performance and installation. Presented by House of the Nobleman. London, UK. Photo credit: Samuel Cox

Tumult, 2014. Performance and installation. Presented by House of the Nobleman. London, UK. Photo credit: Samuel Cox

For Tumult, Lia Chavez crafts a vertiginous environment which the BBC describes as "wraithlike, primal, violent, frightening...(and) utterly, utterly hypnotic."

Transporting the viewer to a sinister storm of consciousness, Tumult is an immersive experience featuring a live performance by Chavez which reveals the chasm between being and outward appearance by using light to convey the flickering visibility of one's interior sense of self. 

The piece features the premiere of a new technological system that she invented in collaboration with rehabstudio. Hailed by Fast Company as “finally giving artists the ‘palette’ to externalize the inner workings of the mind,” this new technology translates Chavez's brain oscillations into stroboscopic pulsations. rehabstudio developed custom code that reads her brainwaves and, via bluetooth, transmits its signal to a strobe light. The technology controls the signal’s frequency and strength, so that when she is in a deep state of meditation, the strobe flashes brightly and intensively, and less so when she is in intermediate states.

Chavez uses her strobe light not only as a mode for communicating her inner state, but as a physical gesture of touching (and even beautifying) the mind of the viewer by way of intense flickering visual stimulation which results in greater synchronization between the creative and analytical parts of the brain — a process which references the work of neuroscientist W. Gray Walter in the 1940s who discovered that flickering light effectively alters the brain wave pattern in the whole cortex of the spectator. This dynamic performance contributes a new way to model human consciousness as a plastic art material.

In collaboration with a group of cognitive neuroscientists at Goldsmiths College and Queen Mary at the University of London, Chavez investigates the neuroscience of creativity and the neurobiological correlates of her durational meditation performance process. This body of research explores the unfolding possibilities of utilizing consciousness as an art material, and is the subject of several forthcoming articles, performances, and presentations—the first of which she delivered at the Tate in late 2014.

Artistic Director and Performer: Lia Chavez
Presenter and Curator: House of the Nobleman
Code and Hardware Developers: Samuel Cox and rehabstudio
Neuroscience Consultants: Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharya and Dr. Caroline Di Bernardi Luft
Curatorial Consultant: Tali Wertheimer
Producer: Two Rams

Selected Press Fast Company / BBC / POSTmatter