Towards changed states of awareness

After devoting Station 2 of the space brain Laboratory to the relations between perception and space, the Institut d’art contemporain invited Station 3 participants to share their theoretical proposals concerning the grasp of the real specific to modified states of awareness. Different types of changes in awareness were studied and, working from there, the possibilities thus made available in terms of cognitive models. Hypnosis was in the forefront of the mental operations mentioned.
Matt Mullican’s performance and exhibition presented by the Institut d'art contemporain form exemplary use of the spatialisation potential of states of trance. Notably, hypnosis makes it possible to leave a traditional perception pattern in which a unique, indivisible and interiorised subject receives information that is external to him. This movement of division, multiplication or even the splitting of subjective perception echoes research in ethnology. The special procedures of different trance rituals (fasting, autosuggestion, the taking of hallucinogens) and the access thereby to extended, collective awareness are thus shown. This leads to an even more general conceptual dissolution of the notion of the individual through the pooling or externalisation of thought and perception.
A retro-perspective look at the importance that these ways of reading the real have had on the history of avant-garde shows clearly the inherent subversive power of these specific cognitive experiences through their potential dialogue with plastic, conceptual or even choreographic creative activity.

Container / Work under study


MRI scans of Matt Mullican’s brain, in a normal state and under hypnosis.


Matt Mullican, Untitled (Matt Mullican under Hypnosis: Zurich), 2003.
Colour sound video loop.
Collection Institut d’art contemporain de Villeurbanne. © Matt Mullican


Matt Mullican, Learning From That Person’s Work, Room 6 (Panneaux n°61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71 et 72), 2005.
12 panels with 9 drawings each, ink on paper mounted on fabric
Collection Institut d’art contemporain de Villeurbanne. © Blaise Adilon


Marion Laval-Jeantet
artist (Art Orienté Objet, with Benoît Mangin), ethnologist and psychotherapist
Pascal Rousseau
art historian, professor at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne


Elisa Brune
writer (novelist and essayist) and science journalist
Denis Cerclet
anthropologist, lecturer at Université Lumière - Lyon 2
Arnauld Pierre
art historian, professor at Université Paris IV - Sorbonne
Pascal Pique
former director of Frac Midi-Pyrénées, he is the founder of Musée de l'Invisible
Jean-Louis Poitevin
doctor in philsophy, writer and art critic

Work under study

Matt Mullican, 12 by 2
Exhibition from june 4 to september 19, 2010 at IAC


For station 3, the container presents documentation about Matt Mullican.

Study day

Friday, June 18, 2010 at IAC Auditorium

Audio recordings of the study day (French - mp3):

  • download the station 3 summary (pdf)
    An English version of the Space Brain Laboratory’s Station 3 summary, written by Elisa Brune (science journalist and novelist), is now avaible. (translated by John Tittensor)

Lecture / Performance

Matt Mullican
Free Entry / IAC Auditorium at 7pm