Altered States

(installations and imagery about perception)

Altered States is a body of various types of work that explore themes of perception and consciousness. Through the use of digital editing, video projection, large scale printing, audio soundscapes, and color changing lights, I am commenting on various forms of altered states, exploring personal experience, and the phenomenology of vision. Much of this work was exhibited in a large group show Phase Shift in Ohio as well as a 2016 solo show Altered States at the AFA Gallery in Pennsylvania.

Theta Waves

Theta Waves is an installation consisting of a table-like contraption with a reservoir of water with a mirror submerged at the bottom. A light aimed downward travels through the rippling water, bounces off the mirror, and casts marvelous patterns of light and shadow onto a wall or ceiling. This piece has been shown as a standalone installation as well as a performance.

In the Theta Waves Experience, people gather and sit or lay on the ground looking up. I manipulate the water myself to a soundtrack. Using professional mixing software, I created various soundscapes by manipulating and arranging my own recordings (piano, cello, drums, and sound effects such as crickets) to play during the presentation. Below are a few clips from my performance during a temporary art fair at the Leonard Theater in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

 

Pixels

Technology surrounds us. Although it makes much of life easier and happier and more convenient, it also has the ability to entrance us. I began to explore the idea of an altered state created by devices like televisions, computers and smartphones. Pixels is an installation involving a large-scale digital print on fabric, a color flashing light, and a droning audio loop. The colored light reacts with the colored ink creating an element of animation… In his 1992 book Food of the Gods, Terrence McKenna speaks about what he called “electronic drugs”, speaking about the ability television had to pull us into an alternative reality, an addictive one, but without the introduction of any external chemicals.

 

The Cloud

A common theme of an altered state is a feeling of disconnectedness from one’s surroundings. The cloud becomes a symbol to comment on the ethereal or intangible qualities and feelings of such a state of mind. I made the decision to cover my face (this is a self-portrait) in order to create a nonspecific character but more importantly to bring attention to the hidden head, or the brain, as the central hub for one’s consciousness. The well suited man’s hands gently lay against his knees as if in a state of readiness, calmness, or meditation. Stars in the background blur hinting at the passage of time. Most importantly this man is not sitting inside but rather out on the grass.

 

Forest Of Illumination

When it comes to spirituality, nature is my place of worship. While biking through the woods, standing at the top of a mountain or just looking up at the stars at night, I feel as if my awareness is heightened, as if I am tuned in more than usual. Forest Of Illumination was designed to give the viewer a moment of perceptual awe, symbolizing this transcendent experience.

The imagery was created by photographing tree limbs using a 4×5 large format camera and black and white film. The negatives were then scanned, mirrored, and given bright hues of color. Large-scale prints made on cloth are hung in a darkened space. The ink then reacts to the slow color fading light sources, creating a strange hypnotic moment of perception. More images and videos of this work can be seen HERE.

 

N,N-DMT

This work of digital art is typically displayed as a 10×10 foot print on fabric. I want to overwhelm the viewer with complexity and pattern. Created by hand in Adobe Photoshop, the image consists of colorful spiraling fractals constructed by repeating, re-sizing, and moving around the structural formula of the powerfully psychoactive compound dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. My interest in DMT lies within its thousands of years of use in shamanic rituals as an entheogen, but also the fact that it is found within many plants and animals. DMT is even produced by our own bodies, and we are not sure what role in consciousness it plays. By using the chemical symbol for N,N-DMT in order to create the psychedelic imagery, I am linking the chemistry to its perceptual effects in which it creates.

 

The Great Epiphany

Again touching on the divinity of the natural world, The Great Epiphany is a combination of photography and digital art. By scanning the veins of a fallen leaf and manipulating them in Photoshop, I am speaking of the hypnotizing effects one experiences in nature… I can recall one specific moment when I felt overwhelmed with joy and peace, with goosebumps on my arms… I had just hiked up the side of a rocky mountain in New York. A cliff overlooked rolling mountains in the distance. I sat down on the cliff and felt the breeze in my hair. Watched a hawk circle around the peaks. Now, after the fact, whenever I think about that moment a slight feeling of that moment comes back to me. This is what The Great Epiphany is all about.

 

Optical Art

Visual trickery is a very interesting thing to feel inside your own head. This body of work is all about that: The phenomenology of vision – Ones inner struggle with visual imagery… Inspired by optical illusions, psychedelically complex imagery, and (most obviously) a moment of painting in the 1960’s, I have created many black and white compositions in photoshop using very basic tools and filters. There is something nice about returning to the most simplistic tools of a vastly powerful program. Just copy and paste, rotate, scale, blend. Clearly this work has a direct connection to the great op-art of Bridget Riley, and I think that connection is a good thing. Below are a few selections from the series.

The Dreaming State