A Consensual Hallucination

“A Consensual Hallucination” is an interactive installation that materialises the idea of hyper-realities recreated by technology, allowing our human existence to coexist, collide and interact with a humanised technology in a virtual space.

This work is framed under two main principles: The concept of humanity and existence defined in the 70’s with the use of the then current technology and the redefinition of the existence of humanity under today’s politics of technology.

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Background

I was profoundly impacted when I found the contents of the Voyagers’ “Golden Record”. NASA assembled a committee who selected 115 images, a variety of natural sounds, musical selection from different cultures and eras, spoken greetings from Earth-people in fifty-five languages and printed messages from President Carter and the U.N. Secretary. The committee assumed that any civilisation outside our world would understand humanity by deciphering our technology. We believed that if we encountered another civilisation, they would be like us. They might recognise our body, our places, our traditions and ourselves.

The idea of our existence was defined by technology available then, but what would it mean to represent the idea of humanity with our current technology? If we were to send another Voyager, another Golden Record, how we would represent ourselves?

Our modern technology is focused on the ‘Age of individualism’. Our everyday consumption of technology focuses in making us dependents of it, taking away simple tasks such as remembering one’s phone number. It seems the result of a rampant capitalist ideal, aiming to control our core desires and primary instincts. Technology has become something closer to a religion: We believe in it and worship its superhuman controlling power. Technology became our obsession, our answer to problems and our next hope. We use technology today to not only represent reality but also to create new ones.

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Installation

The work represents the anxiety generated by social aspects of cyberculture such as computer-mediated communication, interactivity, and social media, mixed with elements of cultural identity, politics of the body, religion and femininity.

The installation is formed by 3 interconnected performative pieces.

  • Past is an interactive video piece that represents the birth of technology as a new religion by the creation of a virtual Madonna. The video piece is formed by 2 layers of a digital video triggered by interacting with the physical mask of the virtual Madonna. The first video is an excerpt from ‘Birth without pain’ by Frederick Leboyer, 1975 combined with the voice over of ‘The Pale Blue Dot’ speech by Carl Sagan as an analogy of the birth of technology. The 2nd part is a video that can be accessed by holding a life-cast mask. The narrative is an abstract performance made by different digital nymphs, combined with sound and music from the Voyager’s Golden Record.
  • Present is a physical representation of the virtual Madonna .The body is a life-cast sculpture suspended on the wall that brings to life a 3-dimensional baby using Augmented Reality. At the bottom of the sculpture, there are the 115 images from the Golden Record, physically melted to recreate the sense of glitch and lost of humanity.
  • Future is the last piece that minimizes the lavishness of the virtual Madonna by representing the selfishness of technology and confining the idea of humanity to an enclosed screen. This piece is composed by a series of 5 ORB Acrylic Prints that represents the idea of humanity in the future and a frame with an Arduino Uno and a small screen shield that runs a slideshow of a series of glitched images processed using Python code and software.