Fine artist Luciana Haill works with brainwaves (EEG signal) exploring consciousness & expressing the results through digital media, performance, sound & drawings. Her artworks focus on sleep, more specifically the discrete states of Lucid Dreaming (awareness within a dream & the ability to take control) & ‘Hypnagogia’ – a more commonly experienced state at the onset of sleep & day-dreaming. She investigates the neural correlates & reveals these to the audience as changes in textured soundscapes & data visualisations. For instance increases in each of the different brainwave frequencies such as Theta are each assigned controls for modulating certain stem parameters in the sonic presence during performances.
The Hypnagogic state can be recognised by a “loosening of ego boundaries … openness, sensitivity, internalisation-subjectification of the physical & mental environment” – all characteristics frequently described by participants in her interactive art in the interviews conducted immediately afterwards.
Her research includes training with Dr Stephen Laberge from The Lucidity Institute in Hawaii & Dr Keith Hearne in London the UK pioneer responsible for detecting Lucid Dreaming in the sleep laboratory. Her work traces the convergence of tools, inventions & ideas from early Neuroscience with those of ‘The Beats’ in Paris – such as the Theta-wave inducing flickering Dreamachine and the symbiont mind of author William Burroughs & artist Brion Gysin. She has connected several times in Deal, Kent with the original photographer of this era Harold Chapman (now in his nineties) for further research. She was Artist in residence in the University of Greenwich for the Department of Psychology in the UK from 2016-2019.
Luciana experienced viral meningitis as a teenager which led to a fascination with the brain. She graduated from the first-ever degree in Interactive Art in the UK, led by Roy Ascott, in 1996 and has since gone on to create installations and performances internationally at major venues, including The Royal Academy, The Royal Institution, Watermans Gallery in Kew, The Sage in Gateshead, The Waag Society in Amsterdam, CENART in Mexico City & The Kinetica Art Fair in London.
Her installations take the form of sensory environments, that enable participants to access new ways of experiencing & perceiving. These works often involve the real-time monitoring of the participants own brainwaves & use other forms of biofeedback such as heart rate, performatively using techniques from neuroscience, hypnosis & meditation, to control & create interactive experiences using sound and video.
In 2007 she was funded by The Arts Council to create ‘Cyber Sleep” & the same year Luciana also co-authored & created two sound works for The Bio-Tracking Project in collaboration with Anna Dumitriu. This was in conjunction to a visit to STEIM in The Netherlands together. You can read & download the paper here : Creative Uses of Virtual Sticky Notes in Art – A Critical Interrogation of The “Bio-tracking” Smart Phone Based Exhibition.
Her pioneering brainwave music was featured in a documentary about legendary electronic musician Raymond Scott by his son. Luciana was a visiting research fellow in The University of Sussex from 2011-2106 for The Department of Informatics and is ‘Head of Hypnagogia in The Institute of Unnecessary Research. In 2012 she worked in a Symposium open to students and the general public for Arts and New Sciences inside CENART in Mexico City DF.
In 2014 she was awarded a second ‘Grant for the Arts’ award from The Arts Council to research and develop new interactive work with EEG and Dreamachines ‘The Phrontesterion’, and her paper was published in The AISB-50 Symposium on “The Future of Art and Computing: A Post-Turing Centennial Perspective”, from ICT & Art Connect is available to read and download here : Revelations by Flicker, Dreamachines and Electroencephalographic signals in art’. And since then she has been exploring a new musical performance with musician Arthur Brown which they debuted in ‘Bestiville’ to an audience of 5000 guests on the Isle of Wight!
In 2018 she created ‘Apparitions‘ an augmented reality series of postcards exploring nostalgia, ageism, hauntology and local lost heritage in Hastings & St Leonards :
“The effect of Apparitions’ AR brings to mind a form of modern-day conjuring or ‘seancing’ of ghosts or phantasms. A form of assisted imaginative time travel enables you to peer through a portal and down the corridors of history.”
Funded by a ‘Grantium’ from The Arts Council of England (focussing on my hometown of Hastings & St Leonards) I designed and produced an ‘augmented reality’ application called ‘Apparitions’. It triggers spectral artworks: 3d models with anachronistic soundscapes when viewing special vintage postcards of the sites using smartphone cameras. Digitally Elevating traditional souvenirs of obsolete sites into steganographic missives, described by Mark Fisher’s as ‘hauntological,’ embedding the past into the future so it may be interrogated as a simulation and a simulacrum.
She has delivered presentations in The October Gallery in Holborn, in ‘Breaking Convention’ in Greenwich, for Nesta in Shoreditch Village Underground as well as in festivals ‘The Secret Garden Party” science tent.
‘Sleep Cycles’ led from her involvement in the International Association for the Study of Dreams 2016 in Rolduc, Holland. Her work was exhibited in the female ‘Technology is not neutral’ show from September 2016 in Brighton’s Phoenix, and in Watermans Art Centre in London until January 2017, and in The Ugly Duck in June 2017.
‘Luciana’s work is sharp and inquiring. She sets up performance installations whereby we (the audience) witness her (the artist) undertake elements of experiment and ritual on our behalf. But this is only half the story, as what the artist does really well is also simultaneously build overarching state changes for us to experience as transformational to our own senses. This blending of putting her own experiences at stake, in order to then facilitate our own sensory involvement, is a clever mechanism to draw together the science, philosophy and magical elements of her work, in ways that are as smart as they are generous.’ – Robert Pacitti, Artist, Director & Curator – SPILL Festival of Performance