Fine artist Luciana Haill works creatively with neurotechnologies, digital media, performance, sound and drawing. Her artworks are research-led, and develop following encounters and (where possible) training with the pioneers in her field. Her works focus on Lucid Dreaming and Hypnagogia, investigating the neural correlates, suggesting and stimulating the surreal psychophenomenological characteristics preceding an Altered State of Consciousness, and interviewing participants about their experiences.
Her light-driven installations stimulate (behind closed eyes) colourful patterns of phosphenes: ‘form constants’ and ‘Flicker’ visuals intrinsic in these ephemeral artworks where she also monitors percipients’ brainwaves using a portable EEG system. In the 1950s these were triggered by Neuro Scientists for clinical research into epilepsy and mescaline’s effects using strobe lights – and this revealed a wealth of patterns known as ‘Entoptics’ that appear very similar to early cave art and the Hypnagogic patterns described in Sleep research in the liminal stage sleep onset. What is expressed by percipients to her works are descriptions of very similar visuals and sometimes Eidetic visions, often with a compressed time distortion, akin to light hypnosis and rejuvenating siestas that lead to sudden unexpected inspirations during ‘reverie’.
Her research includes training with Dr Stephen Laberge from The Lucidity Institute in Hawaii, and more recently meeting Dr Keith Hearne in London – the UK pioneer responsible for detecting Lucid Dreaming in the sleep laboratory, in this fascinating area of Psychology. Her work traces the convergence of tools, inventions and 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 and 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.
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 and The Kinetica Art Fair in London. She is considered a pioneering artist in her field.
Her installations take the form of sensory environments, that enable participants to access new ways of experiencing and perceiving. These works often involve the realtime monitoring of the participants own brainwaves and use other forms of biofeedback such as heart rate, performatively using techniques from neuroscience, hypnosis and meditation, to control and create interactive experiences using sound and video. The Hypnagogic state can be recognised by a “loosening of ego boundaries … openness, sensitivity, internalization-subjectification of the physical and mental environment” – all characteristics frequently described by percipients in her interactive art in the interviews conducted immediately afterwards.
She is currently Artist in residence in the University of Greenwich for Department of Psychology in the UK.
In 2007 she was funded by The Arts Council to create ‘Cyber Sleep” and the same year Luciana also co-authored and 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 and 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 !
She had delivered presentations in The October Gallery in Holborn as well as in festivals ‘The Secret Garden Party” : science tent. Recent new work ‘Sleep Cycles’ led from her involvement in the International Association for the Study of Dreams 2016 in Rolduc, Holland. She has focused on an investigation of sleep and dream-like states and enhanced ’Theta’ brainwaves for prolonging Hypnagogia, and in particular the scientifically proven abilities of ‘Lucid Dreaming’ (consciousness-like awareness within a dream) which she has developed into a series of performances and brainwave recording installations called ‘The Phrontesterion’ that reference the notion of ‘The Visionary’ and can be described as a form of contemporary Surrealism. This was exhibited 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