Late 2011 Rachel Lovelock Yeomans – a fashion designer graduate from Central Saint Martins – sent me interview questions about my project Hyper and the abstract concept of the fourth dimension. Rachel is interested in the subject matter as her dissertation dealt with the concepts of time, the fourth dimension, faceted realities and how they are given expression via the arts.
I am posting the interview here, as answering her questions felt quite relevant to me.
1. Scientific phenomena and ideas seem to be a major influence in your artistic approach. By combing ideas described in metaphysics with your own artistic practice how do you feel you contribute to each discipline?
“I have a hard time positioning myself with regards to stereotypical disciplines. Thankfully this notion of strict categorizations has become more and more relaxed in recent time. It’s like we are going back to a renaissance where art and science are allowed to mingle freely. Yet as i am not a full-time artist (i do earn my living working as a creative technologist) i give myself the freedom of escaping the art-world with its rules and its categories and jargon. I regard my artistic projects as something very egotistical. Something i do, because i have to. Because i am entranced by all these mysteries and sights of beauty around me. Because i am – as you named it – enchanted by the unknown. And i express this fascination of mine in the form of design, art and – somewhat amateurish – research. I hope that my art reaches other people and maybe causes them to experience new feelings of love, appreciation and curiosity for science and reality. I don’t think that my projects contribute to any scientific discipline. They are much too undisciplined and short-lived to count. Unless i manage to pin myself down and deeply immerse myself in one specific topic, and thoroughly follow up on that for many many years, i doubt i will reach a level in my research that would also be valid on scientific fronts. No illusions there, but i am okay with that. I know that i am much too easily distracted by new topics, new discoveries. One fascination just seems to lead to another, and it never seems to end.”
2. What was your intention behind the HYPER project?
“The intention was to create an experiment that potentially could let you develop a deeper understanding of a fourth spatial dimension. I’ve been reading lots about higher dimensions, and i’ve been staring at rotating hypercubes on screens. I could wrap my head around the idea of a fourth dimension. Yet it always was very theoretical. I started to wonder how this theory could become something more realistic or even something intuitive in your mind. At that point i was working at an institution that houses a virtual-reality cave. I decided that a dynamic interactive 3d-environment would definitely offer more ground for experimentation. Furthermost i wanted to create an environment that i could use myself, for research. Something i could insert myself into and spend time in, trying very hard to translate my theoretical knowledge of 4d into the visual presentation in front of my eyes.”
3. Do you link ideas of time as described in special relativity with hyper-space and your HYPER project?
“HYPER didn’t touch upon the notion of time. Besides when i presented the project to a public and kept telling them endlessly about the fourth dimension, until someone asked if i was talking about time. Then i realized that i had forgot to mention that the work is about extra spatial and not temporal dimensions. Even though we could think of those as somewhat similar. Time and Space, Space-Time, it’s all supposed to be the same, right? Highly exhilarating of course. Yet with HYPER i felt like i didn’t want to open that door. I was fine just focusing on one extra dimension that was bound to our elementary understanding of spatial dimensions. Everything else would have been too overburdening then. But i am highly intrigued by the idea that time is only a construct of our mind. I have Julian Barbour’s ‘The End of Time’ on my bookshelf, and i already know that i’ll want to do some more exploratory artworks based on that idea.”
4. How successful do you think HYPER was? How was it received by the general public?
“HYPER was shown to the public only once on the occasion of a short conference presentation. Besides a few people, no one actually had to opportunity to test the virtual environment for a longer time period than say 5 minutes. I would say the minimum time requirement for experiencing the installation lies at about 30 minutes. Either this, or you need to have a very open mind and be highly educated on everything 4d. The public at the presentation was mainly intrigued, but also had a hard time grasping the concept and the intention. Which is understandable. My experiments with HYPER came to a natural end when i left the institution. I definitely wouldn’t call HYPER successful in terms of its initial goal (developing a more intuitive understanding for higher dimensions). I see it as a first tentative step into a direction i would like to explore further. Probably not in a virtual reality setup though (i am not a fan of screens and projections).”
5. Do you think we are coming any closer with our understanding / visualization of the fourth dimension?
“No. But we just started trying. And now we ‘discovered’ dark matter and dark energy. And more people are trying to wrap their heads around what it means that there is more than our naked eye can see. It’s gonna be fun to see what solutions we can come up with. Maybe we’ll develop new sensors that allow us to perceive everything hidden. Maybe the recent constant exposure to brain-science and ideas of consciousness will actually help us change our brain-networks and loosen the limits on our thoughts. All exciting, all in front of us!”