Your Country Of Two Dimensions Is Not Spacious Enough.
LIMITS OF PERCEPTION LAB

...your country of Two Dimensions is not spacious enough to represent me, a being of Three, but can only exhibit a slice or section of me, which is what you call a Circle.

Edwin Abbott Abbott.1884. Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

At this moment of being confined to enclosed, often small spaces, and fixed in particular locations, our thoughts are frequently turning inwards, and we are reconsidering relations of external, internal, geographic, and mental spaces.

LIMITS OF PERCEPTION LAB invites us to extend the solitary experience of locatedness to extra dimensions, where “groundlessness,” [1] as Francisco Varela puts it, presents us with a possibility for mental expansion in multiple directions. 

For one week, SAVVY Contemporary transforms itself into the LIMITS OF PERCEPTION LAB, a hybrid of an artist studio and a scientific laboratory, using multidisciplinary methodologies to study experience and as a means of knowledge disruption and production. [2] It is grounded in artistic practice within an extended context, drawing from and working with practitioners from the fields of cognitive and vision science, neuroscience, experimental psychology, mathematics and architecture while being in conversation with critical practitioners from the fields of humanities, including but not limited to art history, history of science, and philosophy. 

The project serves an experimental phase of a long-term platform for investigation of perceptual limits as potential sites of social transformation. This materialization of the open lab at SAVVY Contemporary focuses on perception and imagination of extra dimensions.

In this context, the SAVVY Contemporary iteration of LIMITS OF PERCEPTION LAB concerns itself with limits of perception and epistemological categories, including the Western definitions, and how they shape the ways in which we are taught to think, feel, and rationalise our sensing of ourselves and the world. Ivana Franke’s work probes possibilities of approaching consciousness in “a multidimensional way,” [3] seeking means of affirming our imaginations beyond already known categories and habituated ways of perceiving – going beyond what Harvard physicist Lisa Randall calls the “pervasive but quite possibly mistaken assumption that we live in a three-dimensional world.” The weeklong exhibition and laboratory installed at SAVVY Contemporary materialises as a zone to provide experience in which to question the habitual ways of seeing and knowing in three-dimensional environments.

Visitors are invited to navigate the gallery space transformed into an open studio, and to engage with spaces of darkness, epiphanies of lights, visual quandaries and thought experiments.

In addition to the public experiments, a discursive programme and a radio broadcast will address Western scientific assumptions about consciousness and the limits of perception. The project connects to and draws upon SAVVY Contemporary’s programme THE INVENTION OF SCIENCE and its long-term explorations and challenges of the frailties and fallacies of objective scientific knowledge.

The laboratory problematises the potential of “epistemological ruptures” that break with “normal science” [4] and evokes experiences to challenge existing common modes of knowledge-production , to question the “hegemonic assertions of Enlightenment ideals of the liberal white male subject,” [5] to crack open preconceived ideas of reality, and to lend it other dimensions that are decidedly fictitious, imaginary, and cosmic.

WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO EXPERIENCE? WHO CAN CLAIM THE TRUTH OF AN EXPERIENCE? 

We concern ourselves with a set of questions: What is an experience and what conditions it? How does the meaning arise from the experience itself? How does cultural embeddedness influence perception and cognition of experience?

Every single view from within speaks the truth about its own reality. It is irreplaceable, so invaluable, and equally valid as all others are. Experiencer’s experience holds the power to subjective truth. Disrupting the Cartesian tradition of placing mind over matter, and interrupting the idea of the “liberal subject, represented as having a body, but not being a body,” as Alexander G. Weheliye states, the programme will also grapple with redrafting the hegemonic Western version of personhood, and will engage with “inscriptions of humanity” … “that always incorporate their own multiplicities, as opposed to mere uncritical echoes of the white liberal humanist subject.” [6]

This project engages with scientists alongside indigenous, non-Western and non-positivist modes of investigating human consciousness. It reflects on lived experiences, which combine first and third-person perspectives, while suggesting new ways of sharing them. This opens possibilities for producing and disseminating knowledge in an unterritorialized, non-hierarchical, multidimensional, and more-than-human future planetary imagination. 

Ivana Franke is a Croatian visual artist based in Berlin. Her works, often investigations of darkness and light, focus on the interface between consciousness and environment, while addressing perceptual thresholds. Her recent projects include Imminence, an exhibition in the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka in 2019 and Time Slip, a public project as a part of ECC 2020 Rijeka, both in collaboration with Gronlund and Nisunen. The installation Lovers Seeing Darkness. Ubiety Unknown has been shown in MACBA in Barcelona in 2018, as a more complex iteration of the solo exhibition Retreat into Darkness. Towards a Phenomenology of the Unknown in the Schering Stiftung Project Space in Berlin, 2017). Her survey-like show Perceptual Drift (Galaxies in Mind) took place in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb in 2017. Her other projects include Disorientation Station (11th Shanghai Biennale, 2016) and Seeing with Eyes Closed (Peggy Guggenheim, Venice (2011), Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, (2012)).She represented Croatia at the 52nd Venice Biennale with the solo exhibition Latency (2007), at the 9th Venice Biennale of Architecture with collaborative work Frameworks (2004). Other exhibitions include Manifesta 7 (2008), and MoMA P.S.1. (2001). Her large scale outdoor installation will open in Yokohama Museum of Art in July 2020, as a part of Yokohama Triennale.

LIMITS OF PERCEPTION LAB HISTORYThe activities of the Lab (within Franke’s artistic practice) date back to 2009 – when the first public experiment with stroboscopic light was organized by Kontejner Buro for Contemporary Art in Zagreb, as a part of the Device Art exhibition, curated by Suncica Ostojic, and have been since then taking place in various settings – in scientific, educational, cultural and art contexts. In 2009 and 2010 following experiments with flickering lights and related events took place at the Olafur Eliasson’s Institute for Spatial Experiments, UdK Berlin as beginning of collaboration with neuroscientist Ida Momennejad. Among other activities in 2011, with the project Seeing with Eyes Closed, in collaboration with neuroscientists Ida Momennejad, Elena Agudio and AoN – platform for Art and Neuroscience- symposium in Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice took place with Elena Agudio, Olafur Eliasson, Jeebesh Bagchi, Semir Zeki, Moran Cerf, Vitorio Gallese. The event Seeing with eyes closed – immeasurable realm of subjective experience, with Ida Momennejad, Carsten Nicolai, Daniel Margoles, Francisco Vidal took place in Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin in 2012, Waking Background with Suncica Ostojic and Ulrich W. Thmoale in Lauba in Zagreb. The Lab has been operating within the Art Institute at the Department of Architecture in Braunschweig Technical University (2014-2015), where continuous experiments have been realized with students and Phillip Dreyer and Natalija Miodragovic. Hannah Hurzig’s Mobile Academy Berlin has served as site for experiment with the installation We close our eyes and see a flock of birds in 2014. Lazareti Cultural Center in Dubrovnik has hosted round table with Bilge Sayim and Elena Agudio, talks and exhibition with monica Narula and Raqs Media Collective and the project Mind Crossing (2015), Installations and the results of the research have been presented at the European conference of visual perception in Liverpool in 2014 and at the Science of Consciousness conference in Tucson in Arizona in 2016, together with Bilge Sayim. The project Retreat into Darkness. Towards a Phenomenology of the Unknown has been hosted by Schering Stiftung. It included an experiment and two symposia with,among others Jimena Canales, Anil Seth, Patricia Reed, Silvia Pont. Studio Ivana Franke in Berlin has served as a site of exchange and experiments since 2010.

Publications documenting the projects Seeing with Eyes Closed (AoN 2011, Ed. Elena Agudio, Ivana Franke) and Retreat to Darkness.Towards a Phenomenology of the Unknown (Spector Books, 2018, Ed. Heike Catherina Mertens, Katja Naie) have been published.

1

“When we widen our horizon to include transformative approaches to experience, especially those concerned not with escape from the world or the discovery of some hidden, true self but with releasing the everyday world from the clutches of the grasping mind and its desire for an absolute ground, we gain a sense of perspective on the world that might be brought forth by learning to embody groundlessness as compassion in a scientific culture.” Varela, Francisco J., et al. 2016. The Embodied Mind: Cognitive Science and Human Experience. The MIT Press.

2

Artworks or artist-devised tools are employed to create settings for conducting experiments and developing questionnaires in collaboration with cognitive scientists for subjective reports – including verbal and visual descriptions, and quantitative measures. One of the experiments at  Savvy Contemporary employs flickering light and standardised 5D-ASC rating scale.

3

Tim Bayne and Olivia Carter. 2018. “Dimensions of Consciousness and the Psychedelic State.” in: Neuroscience of Consciousness

4

Thomas S. Kuhn and Ian Hacking. 2012. The Structure of Scientific Revolution. University Of Chicago Press.

5

Ibid 7. 

6

Alexander G. Weheliye, 2002. "'Feenin': Posthuman Voices in Contemporary Black Popular Music“ in Social Text, 71 (Volume 20, Number 2), Summer 2002, 21-47, Duke University Press.