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Shapes (and Other Shapes)

April 11, 2015


ALTAR VI: SHAPES (AND OTHER SHAPES) when: Sat April 11 @ 7pm & 9pm where: Museum of Human Achievement > Canopy, 916 Springdale Rd, 78702 The Octopus Project & Fantasy PhD Presented by The Museum of Human Achievement

In the first phase of trance an altered state of consciousness would come about. People would experience geometric shapes commonly known as entoptic phenomena. These would include zigzags, chevrons, dots, flecks, grids, vortices and U-shapes.

During the second phase of trance people try to make sense of the entoptic phenomena. They would elaborate the shape they had ‘seen’ until they had created something that looked familiar to them.

In the third phase a radical transformation occurs in mental imagery. Subjects have found that they experience sliding down a rotating tunnel, entering caves or holes in the ground. People in the third phase begin to lose their grip on reality and hallucinate monsters and animals of strong emotional content. In this phase heightened sensory awareness gives one the feeling that they have undergone a physical transformation.

The Octopus Project is a multimedia rock n’ roll band from Austin, TX. Fantasy PhD consists of visual artists Wiley Wiggins & Everest Pipkin.

Shapes (and Other Shapes) was a live performance by the Octopus Project accompanied by projections and a live reading of generated texts. Each performance followed a simple game-like randomized structure and was presented as a ritualized “translation” of what may or may not have been newly-discovered creation and destruction myths. A telephone number was also created as part of the performance (free tickets could be won by interacting with its phone tree). The number is still working (see show site) but portions of the recordings are also archived here.

When we made Shapes… I had been making a lot of really noisy visual art and animation and I had always had a really hard time compressing it effectively for the web. I was putting video online and also doing live projections for shows and installations, and I could never capture online the stuff I was doing at events. I got kind of fascinated with how video compression works and the natural perceptual equipment that people have that mimics video compression in some ways. I was thinking a lot about how much of what we see is actually there and how much is an impression or even an hallucination. I liked the idea that the work of perceiving by the viewer was of equal importance and I was just setting up the conditions for them to have an experience, like a game. At the same time I was starting to wonder about putting the stuff I did in an art context, which I had never worried about before, because I wanted to make more ambitious things. Shapes (and other Shapes) is about a pseudoscience organization trying to decode meaning from background noise, and distilling this sort of creation myth from it that might just be an artifact of the equipment they’re using to try to ‘detect’ that meaning. Even the working group name that Everest and I came up with played with ideas of sciencification and authority- Fantasy PHD.

shapes/ images

Audio Files: