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The Psychoplastics – The Carpet exhibition at the Kapelica Gallery in Ljubljana (2010) is an interactive, computer based and sensory installation. The project is placed in the intersection of art and technology, challenging several notions of what a work of art can be. The exhibition turns the body into the stage of a sensorial theater. Inside the Kapelica Galery the users are laying down, and swept into an electronic, computer-controlled carpet. The carpet becomes the new skin of the user, slipping him or her into the corpus of a story told through touch and binaural, 3 dimensional sound. The suit imprints stories of great corporal pleasure. The storytelling technique is built around hypnosis. The bodysuit renders the stories physical. So the experience becomes a real, personal and intimate play with ones own body and identity.
The Psychoplastics Carpet Project explores the question of how we can sculpt and manipulate our personality for real. How can an immersive and corporal experience change and manipulate our feelings? Completely. How does it to feel to be someone else? From the inside?
To achieve this, a mix of mental and physical technologies is used to manipulate perception. The project uses a combination of advanced sound and haptic (touch) stimulus to make us plastic: to shape, mould and sculpt our psychological personality and perception. Sensuous technologies and techniques model our selves, our feelings, our identity and personality.
For Ljubljana site specific stories will be created, using psychoplastic technology to reproduce Stendhal’s ecstasy. During a visit to Florence in 1817 the French novelist Stendhal was so struck by the immense artistic beauty that his body went into tremor. He experienced a form of aesthetic ecstasy. This was later defined as The Stendhal Syndrome. Symptoms of the syndrome are erratic heartbeat, dizziness, confusion, breathlessness, panic attacks, fainting to the floor and hallucinations when one is exposed to art. As with Kant’s notion of the sublime the syndrome might not necessarily appear as a pleasant experience there and then, but time and distance can change awe and startledness into an aesthetical pleasure. This is the experience of autonomy when an awesome and ‘sublime’ corporal experience is digested over time by a rational being it will most likely reappear indirectly as pleasure.
Phenomenologically interesting is the layer, that is the distance between the subject and the experience, which the body carpet creates. This estrangement makes it possible for the body to experience for itself and can therefore be considered a phenomenological experience of corporal autonomy that in itself can reappear indirectly as pleasure.
Through the haptic carpet, the users encounter invisible, immaterial sculptures rendered real through sensual stimulations. The piece is a travel through odd experiences, affecting both the physical perception and mental concepts of what art can be.
Support: The exhibition is supported by NOTAM and Office for Contemporary Art, Norway.