NOWs: Your country of two dimensions is not spacious enough. Limits of Perception Lab. By Ivana Franke
Your country of two dimensions is not spacious enough. Limits of Perception Lab by Ivana Franke
SAAVY Contemporary, Berlin
Entrance; Plantagenstraße 31
OPEN LAB, EXHIBITION, EXPERIMENTS
Open to the public (max of 15 people in the gallery at same time), visitors wanting to participate in the experiments should register HERE
SATELLITE EVENT: DREAMSCAPE #1
WITH Israel Lopez
In the Limits Lab in Berlin-Moabit – Open to the public by appointment HERE
…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
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.  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 imaginations of extra dimensions.
The SAVVY Contemporary iteration of LIMITS OF PERCEPTION LAB concerns itself with limits of perception and epistemological categories, including 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,”  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”  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,”  to crack open preconceived ideas of reality, and to lend it other dimensions that are decidedly fictitious, imaginary, and cosmic.
We concern ourselves with a set of questions: What is an experience and what conditions it? How does the meaning 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 experiments also grapple with redrafting the hegemonic Western version of personhood, and engage with “inscriptions of humanity” … “that always incorporate their own multiplicities, as opposed to mere uncritical echoes of the white liberal humanist subject.” 
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.
Visitors are invited into an archive of scientific papers, literary pieces, filled questionnaires, sketched analysis of data, drawings and dreamscapes shared by subjects experiencing the exhibition. An exercise to probe the limits of our perception and imagination follow.
INSTALLATIONS BY Ivana Franke
Within the installation We close our eyes and see a flock of birds: we sit in the middle of a cylindrical room and are invited to close our eyes. We are exposed to a flickering light which gives rise to a quasi-hallucinatory visual experience of moving images behind our closed eyes. A shimmering of colours, patterns, shapes, or figures in motion happen in our heads, making us see a stream of images: birds flying, people passing by, circles and spirals swirling and whatever else one can imagine. Each person “constructs” their very own “movie”, a possible reminiscence of something long forgotten or closeby.
We are also asked to enter From The Faraway Past and From The Future: we perceive a dark space where the only thing visible are thin curved lines floating in the air, at eye level. Slowly, circular shapes start to emerge, flowing in different directions. Decontextualized specular highlights move according to the viewer’s individual movements; the unknown “object” starts to overlap, merge, shrink, expand, appear and disappear, bustling in unexpected directions, changing its shape, size and position. These curious constitutions seem to extend deep into the space, only to come back towards us in rolling motion. Our brains cannot measure what they perceive, we can only guess, speculate, imagine and try to find the coordinates.
After being exposed to flickering light in the first installation, participants are asked to fill a version of 5D-ASC, 5-Dimensional Altered State of Consciousness: a questionnaire to explore measures of subjective qualities of non-ordinary waking states. Following the experience of darkness in the second installation, participants are handed questionnaires inquiring about their perceptual experiences and cognitive processes – with focus on experience of spatial dimensions and interpretation of spatial concepts.
ONLINE INVOCATIONS 21.06.2020 14:00–20:00
WITH Jarita Holbrook, Taita Juan Martín Jamioy Juajibio, Juan-Andres Leon, Sangeetha Menon, Ida Momennejad, Monica Narula, Lisa Randall, Tomas Saraceno, Sunčica Ostojić, and others
A number of thinkers will examine the concept of multidimensionality within their respective disciplines and reflect on its significance as a transformative force for production and dissemination of knowledge in unterritorialized, non-hierarchical, multidimensional future world.
SATELLITE EVENT: DREAMSCAPE #1 18.06.–28.06.2020
WITH Israel Lopez
Dreamscape #1 is an installation that aims to stage a dream. The installation works based on sensory manipulation, by which a flat is staged as a place to tune down, isolate, and calibrate the sensory system in preparation for the sleepstate. Dreamscape #1 is a composition for closed eyes, is an offer of self space and an attempt to modulate the ways in which we create spatial relations.
The flat will be open for several visitors every day after a previous appointment, each occupying the flat alone.
CURATOR Elena Agudio
CO-CURATOR Kelly Krugman
ARTISTIC DIRECTION Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
PRODUCTION Kimani Joseph
MANAGEMENT Lema Sikod
COMMUNICATIONS Anna Jäger
LIVE-STREAM Boiling Head Media
LAB COLLABORATORS Israel Lopez, Dora Sribar
THANKS to Elena Agudio, Bilge Sayim, Ida Momennejad, Heike Catherina Mertens, Katja Naie, Hannah Hurzig, Tomas Saraceno, Natalija Miodragović, Philipp Dreyer, Olafur Eliasson, Mathias Sohr, Sunčica Ostojić, Martina Kramer, Pierre Gallais, Etienne Ghys, Oliviere Varenne, Sandra Aračić, Tanja Cvetko, Elena Chronopolou, Frank Spenling, Stephan Spenling, Johann Klaphake, Israel Lopez, Alexandre Mballa Ekobena, Dora Šribar, Vedran Franke.
SUPPORT The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of Republic of Croatia, part of the program Croatian presidency of the Council of the European Union
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.