On the 8th of June 2017, some of London's finest DJs gathered at Corsica Studios for Altered States, the official ArchFilmFest after-party.
Altered States was a club night, but one where the synergy between the crowd, the DJ, the lights and space was transformed into a co-evolving, co-productive and filmic organism. Altered States was a hallucinatory machine of light, sound and movement, triggered by the DJ and operated by the crowd.
It turned out to be a singular, experimental night on the fourth wall, somewhere between making and experiencing space, inside sound and light, outside of time.
Altered States is a project I've been thinking about/ working on for some time now. It all started with Sound in Z, an amazing book that tells the story of Russian pioneers in music/ film technology in the 1920s. Many of their inventions and ideas explored the possibilities of induced synaesthesia, sensory art as way to transform society, and trans-coding between light and sound.
It struck me the Russians were trying to put into practice some of the ideas thinkers like William James and Gustav Fechner had coined decades earlier, while their weird machines and multi-media performances reminded me of my own experiences at the raves and clubs of the mid-nineties. Could it be that these post-revolutionary Russians were really proto-ravers, and that electronic dance culture in fact generates instances of Fechner's lowerered threshold of consciousness?
To try and answer these questions, Altered States is an experimental installation that cross-connect the parts that make up a club night. Space, crowd, music and lights are all part of a feedback loop that runs as follows:
Triggered by the DJ/ performer, sounds are sent through an assault course of filters and modulation sources, operated by the crowd through glow-stick-inter-action (or any light you can get your hands on) with an array of light sensors suspended above the dancefloor. The lighting rig is plugged straight into the music and as such not just reacts to it, but is it; the light is generated by exactly the same voltages that drive the sound system. So, any modulation of the sound is a modulation of the lighting rig as well; all at the crowd's (your) finger tips.
Beyond beaming your movements into space as an ever changing light-made-of-sound, the lighting rig is looking at itself and can be tipped over into a visual feedback loop, a fuzzy projection of the physical edges of Corsica Studios driven and modulated by the throbbing music and crowd.
In direct relation to the intensity of the music and movement, the sound waves that reflect off -and resonate through the architecture of Corsica Studios are scaled up to reveal how they inter-act with physical space.
The title Altered States alludes to the transfigurations of one medium into another, sound-into-light, light-into-space, space-into-light and so on.
The pro-active insertion of one's body into these transfigurations however, may bring about an altered state of consciousness, a mental collapsing of the distance that separates our senses. In doing so, we may well collapse the furthest reach we know of, the distance between our minds.