10/09 'Illumi-Nation Narcosis', Live Media Performance at Le Flash, Atlanta, USA
"…pure light through pure water, such seems to be the psychological principle of lustration [purification]. Near water, light takes on a new tonality; it seems that light has more clarity when it meets clear water..."
Gaston Bachelard, 'Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter', 1984.
‘Illumi-Nation Narcosis’ was a multiple real-time projection video installation, with sculptural elements in the Castleberry Hill Area, Atlanta.
The triangular pool at Castleberry Point was the main site of the installation that acted as a locus for the projections and sculptural elements. There was a series of projections across the space, some on the water fountain’s vertical falling liquid walls. Other imagery was aimed into the pool of water to create reflections using the mathematical principal of ‘the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection’. Through this principle the imagery was also cast onto the exterior wall locations surrounding the triangular fountain. Within the pool there were illuminated spheres filled with LED lights and abstract forms. This sculptural aspect enhanced and contributed to the projected media on the surface plane, functioning as a microcosm inside of a macrocosm. The overall effect was an illusion of flowing and shifting torrid streams, whirlpools, ebbs, and tides filled with dream like and evocative imagery.
During the installation/performance, the audience walked through the refracted
areas of imagery surrounding the pool and observed the video narrative of the
performance inside the pool and on the falling water walls. The reflections and casted imagery created a mirage that referenced mythological archetypes of the narcissistic gaze, oracle projections, magic mirrors or pools of ancient lore; a media world of fleeting memes and half remembered or false experiences. The refracted imagery conjured notions of a magical prism or light sculpture. The overall impression was like looking into and through a ‘looking glass’ to another dimension or peering into the oracle of media narcissism. Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase ‘Narsissus narcosis’, which was a term referring to the numbing effect of any critical response the impact of new media can have on society. The dream world of the mediascape can be an escape, a prophetic
future projection or a pleasant experience that lulls the viewer into a vision of
peace, trancelike harmony or illusionistic happiness.
Music by DJ Shrapnel aka Matthew Haddock performed on location.
“Because all media, from the phonetic alphabet to the computer, are extensions of man that cause deep and lasting changes in him and transform his environment. Such an extension is an intensification, an amplification of an organ, sense or function, and whenever it takes place, the central nervous system appears to institute a self-protective numbing of the affected area, insulating and anesthetizing it from conscious awareness of what's happening to it. It's a process rather like that which occurs to the body under shock or stress conditions, or to the mind in line with the Freudian concept of repression. I call this peculiar form of self-hypnosis Narcissus narcosis, a syndrome whereby man remains as unaware of the psychic and social effects of his new technology as a fish of the water it swims in. As a result, precisely at the point where a new media-induced environment becomes all pervasive and transmogrifies our sensory balance, it also becomes invisible.”
Marshall McLuhan, 'Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man', 1964.