Shifting Perspectives

by Maxim Mulder

What role can visionary experiences play in fostering a sense of wonder and a broader perspective of the world around us?

Psychedelics | Perspective | Design | Graduation Work

With the disappearance of organised religion the individual searches for an answer to what makes life ultimately meaningful. Psychedelics at the right dose, creates a significant experience (visionary experience) which could answer such a question. Revealing within the span of a few hours, depths of awe and understanding which can otherwise elude the individual for a lifetime. There is a striking similarity between the psychedelic experience of Mescalin (or Lysergic-acid) and that of stroboscopic light. Both begin with the perception of colored, moving, living geometrical forming a visionary experience. Something that is felt beyond the five senses of touching, seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting. Shifting perspectives is a visual stroboscopic installation that is viewed with the eyes closed inducing the viewer into a visionary experience through eidetic visual stimulation. The installation is an invitation to contemplate & evaluate upon one's personal experience and to become curious about the nature of their experience and their surroundings.

Shifting perspectives is a series of stroboscopic sculptures which are exhibited at music & dance festivals such as DTRH, Dekmantel & Draaimolen (fig 38-41) at night and located on idyllic sceneries. A place where self expression can take place and be explored. [1] Imagine: you’re in an ecstatic state walking around from music stage to music stage when at the edge of the festival you hear an etheric sound that emanates from the forest with lights flickering through the trees. Curiously you are drawn into the forest where you’ll pass by a sign above you that is illuminated in neon light stating the following: Come closer and close your eyes. At this moment you are able to see the stroboscopic sculptures with rotating plates emitting and illuminating the forest around you, there are several other festival visitors who are watching the stroboscopic sculptures, elevated at different heights, with their eyes closed. You wander a bit closer until you see that there is a stroboscopic sculpture without anyone in front of it, walking towards it you notice the markings on the ground indicating where you should stand approximately. You take a stand and close your eyes.

You’ll start to see all kinds of colours and patterns with your eyes closed which will change during the duration of your experience. When looking with your eyes closed for a longer period of time your experience will become richer as you become more emerged. During all of this you are engulfed in the beautiful and meditative music of Nils Frahm whilst hearing the rotating sounds of the sculpture in front of you which draws you into the eidetic imagery that the sculptures produce whilst your eyes are closed. When opening your eyes you're overwhelmed with a feeling of curiosity, you’ve just experienced something unique to you which is indescribable to a degree. The desire to share this experience has been awakened within you and you start to share your personal experience with others around you, comparing your experience. One's eidetic visuals take the shape of circles, the other crosses and the other something completely different. Your perspective has shifted, you wonder in what different light you are able to experience the world and look curiously around you at the lights in and around the festival terrain. You have become curious and inspired.

Clicking on the following videos will show you a taste of how the installation will be experienced in the correct context:

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The goal of shifting perspectives is to evoke vivid eidetic visuals, curiosity and conversation.

Vivid eidetic visuals are evoked through the use of rhythmically flashing stroboscopic light in a darker environment which results in a larger luminous difference between the environment and the light source. Furthermore the most vivid eidetic visuals were produced through a pattern combination, laser cut onto a rotating plate, which allowed for light to pass through but not a significant amount at the stroboscopic frequency of 8-13 flickers per second [1]. These results and insights came about through testing the stroboscopic installation in different environments and through the use of different stroboscopic patterns.

Curiosity was evoked within the viewers when presented with the experience in the right context. A context where the individual is able to explore themselves freely and feel at ease. A place where the individual is able to express themselves and accelerate that feeling and most importantly a place where people are open minded to new and altering experiences. When testing the experience in outdoor parks and settings people had different agendas and places to attend, there were a few curious people but that simply makes it too high of a threshold to enter. The place should provide a space, freedom and the oppertunity for self-expression such as music festivals.

And lastly, conversation and discourse has been observed to take place after having experienced shifting perspectives. Some people, most notably, became fascinated afterwards and tried to have similar experiences through other modes. To such an extent is not the goal however. Simply sharing the experience the individual has had with others and engaging with others is enough.