dOCUMENTA(13) experiments, Kassel, Germany, 2012
Just as the Hypnotic Show extended itself into other events in D13, so too, during the cabin inductions, I would sometimes send people mentally off to explore nearby places. One such place was as Gabriel Lester’s large- scale horse-shoe- shaped tunnel (as a transformative conduit), or further away such as to Vito Acconci’s 1969 “‘Following Piece,”’ from 1969, which itself had been the subject of one of the Hypnotic Show’s past manifestations in Torino.
Note to self: ..talking about Turin scripts, I put the atropine in the eyeballs last night and one eye zoomed into a cafe in NYC, where and there was Acconci's “‘Following Piece” was’ waiting for us. It, which turned out to be more of a mirror piece...I was quite surprised to find it turn up in our cabin...
(note to self) This kind of “‘derive”’ or drifting through other works of art was somewhat in keeping with Lucius Burckhardt’s investigations into the emotional mapping of space. One of his main topics of interest was “‘promenade science,”’ which he developed a field he developed while being as a professor at the Department of Architecture, Urban and Landscape Planning at the Gesamthochschule of Kassel. I, too, myself had explored this kind of psycho-somatic mapping between real and imaginary spaces with my Cycholopis project which took place in Cagliari, Sardinia, which took place with Daniela Frogheri and 30 engineering students. The project, and was later displayed at the iMage Festival in Firenze as a servo-controlled emotional-data-deformed map of the city.
Other off-road explorations included some exploits at the Hauptbahnof, the central train station, where some volunteers meandered though the station in a deep trance state with their bodies heavy and weighted down almost like moving statues on wheels. One student reported that the sound from the seconds clicking on the clock sent chills through her, and when a lady with a rolling cart went over some bumps it felt like she had been “‘in a calm ocean... [with] and the sound gave a feeling of massive ripples’.” This hyper-sensitivity extended to another test in which Chiara was standing in the main hallway with two 2 large clocks at either end. She reported that one was much louder than the other, though (I couldn’t hear anything at all myself). In actual fact, the clocks showed time being disagreed by four4 minutes,
apart and Chiarashe became was sure that the louder clock was telling the right time. We checked on her cell phone, and sure enough her intuition had been correct. It was, as if the clocks had been communicating to her. In this trance space, if one was to apply Actor-Network theory to the sessions, the agency of non-humans becomes as prevalent and ubiquitous as human interactions, and all entities, whether animate or inanimate, are “speaking” ‘speaking’ to the unconscious minds. In a conscious state, however, our minds gags the messages we are receiving from all around us, and blocks blocking our natural tendency to ascribe emotional projections from these spaces and objects.
Calming the strike
About two thirds of the way through 70 days into the 100 days of D13, a mutiny began to develop at Pedro Reyes’s Sanatorium. Pedro was preparing something in Korea and had left the project on a self-running basis. The students were starting to feel somewhat rudderless, and these strains were beginning to manifest, as if the Documenta community was a microcosm of a whole society. The students went on strike to demand more engagement, which sent waves of gossip through the D13 community, and sure enough, the Sanatorium was closed and the strike signs were posted. I don’t think it was about the money that they weren’t being paid. The students demanded more engagement to help counter this feeling of being adrift. Chus Martinez stepped in and gave them apep talk, and we organized a hypnosis session with them so that they could become more connected to the symbols they had been juggling with every day for the last couple of months, but to which they had established little actual rapport.
In a somnambulistic state of trance, I lead them back into one of the rooms that had a labyrinth-likeine structure on a table, and asked each person to take from the shelf a small object with which they identified from the shelf. They then discussed why they had chosen each object, sometimes going back, referring to rediscovered childhood memories of a similar object, such as a small, Mayan-looking glass effigy, tapping into traditions and the watery, liquid aspect of the object. The decision making process of choosing the piece was very intuitive and made with no hesitation. And curiously, the objects chosen were ones that had been the students ignored when they were in a conscious state. The strike was soon over and I like to think, or imagine, or dream that the exercise helped Pedro Reyes’ volunteers understand their project from within, rather than go through the external motions.