“Riotous storm systems, lightning bolts: the staccato light is an external representation of the visions she sees while deep in meditation.” – Fast Company
While Chavez uses her strobe light as a mode for communicating her inner state, she also appropriates the light as a physical gesture of touching (and even beautifying) the mind of the viewer. The intense flickering of the visual stimulation results in greater synchronization between the creative and analytical parts of the brain — a process which draws upon the trailblazing work of neuroscientist W. Gray Walter in the 1940s who contributed the important discovery that flickering light effectively alters the brain wave pattern in the whole cortex of the spectator. While observing the artist perform, the neurobiological activity of the viewer becomes harmonized with that of the artist. In orchestrating what Chavez calls a “mindful communion” between artist and audience, this dynamic performance contributes a new approach to modeling human consciousness as an art material.
Tumult belongs to the artist’s intricate investigation of the relationship between elevated states of consciousness and creativity. This body of art and research, entitled On the Science of Mystical Vision, has culminated in a decade-long collaborative research venture with pre-eminent neuroscientists at Goldsmiths College and Queen Mary at the University of London and original contributions to the neuroscience of creativity.
“Tumult is a snapshot of the artist’s interior world at a singular moment in time, much like a photograph captures the external world.” – Fast Company
Immersive performance installation
Originally presented by House of the Nobleman in London, UK on the occasion of Frieze Week
Featuring an original stroboscopic biofeedback meditation technology co-invented by Lia Chavez and rehab
Photography credit: ioulex
Artistic Director and Performer: Lia Chavez
Presenter and Curator: House of the Nobleman
Code and Hardware Developer: rehab
Neuroscience Consultants: Dr. Joydeep Bhattacharya and Dr. Caroline Di Bernardi Luft
Curatorial Consultant: Tali Wertheimer
Producer: Two Rams
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 the Self.
The work features the premiere of an innovative stroboscopic biofeedback meditation technology that Chavez invented in collaboration with London-based creative technology studio, rehab. Hailed by Fast Company as “finally giving artists the ‘palette’ to externalize the inner workings of the mind,” this new technology translates brain oscillations into stroboscopic pulsations. Custom code reads the artist’s brainwaves and, via bluetooth, transmits its signal to a strobe light. The technology controls the signal’s frequency and strength, so that when Chavez is in a deep state of meditation, the strobe flashes brightly and intensively, and less so when she is in intermediate states.