Movement, color and sound: Aesthetic and affective journeys into hypnagogia
Hurson, Erin Elizabeth
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Scientists and artists have studied characteristics of flickering movement, color, and sound for their spiritual effects on humans. Brion Gysin realized the calming effects of the flicker movement with his Dream Machine when he discovered that he could mimic the rhythm of the alpha waves in the human brain by spinning a record player at 78 rpm. Wassily Kandinsky described the deeper and moving characteristics of colors as their psychic effect; he argued that colors produced a spiritual vibration through this psychic effect in addition to a plain physical effect. Robert Monroe made use of binaural beats, realizing their potential at various frequencies, for brainwave synchronization. Whether all these studies and projects can really induce psychological effects on humans is yet to be known, but one thing that cannot be disputed is how works of art have the power to affect its viewers in a movingly emotional manner. In the case of Hypnagogic, which uses flickering movement, color, and sound as well as the comfort of a living room environment rather than any intelligible meanings, affect theory can best explain the influence that this installation has on its viewers. As Brian Massumi puts it, the human body has the capacity, through its sensory receptors, to allow for the intensity of an experience to be transmitted and received. By taking advantage of the characteristics of visual, aural, and spatial stimulants, Hypnagogic becomes the affecting body as the viewer becomes the affected body as intensities between them unfold. The feelings that each viewer experiences by seeing the installation, however, are different because feelings are intensities that have been verified with past experiences and labeled. Because no viewer has the same biographical history as another, each viewer's internal and external reactions differ even though they experience the same installation. This is why it would be worthwhile to understand affective properties of flickering movement, color, and sound and see how they come together in accord in Hypnagogic.