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Altered States

Royaards, Rense Merijn; (2020) Altered States. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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In the 19th century, the physicist-philosopher Gustav Fechner proposed a framework to measure the correlation between the strength of stimuli and conscious experience, which he called psychophysics. Following in Fechner’s footsteps, philosopher William James developed the idea that lowering the psychophysical threshold could expand consciousness to thus far unexplored regions of the mind. In the 1910s and 20s, a historically ignored group of Russian post-revolutionary artists, inventors, film makers and sound engineers experimented with transformative experiences through over- exposure to light, sound and movement. sound, light and movement with the aim of lowering mankind’s threshold of consciousness. 60 years later, rave culture began to construct collective Using an innovative research methodology that combines historical analysis, fictionalized accounts and experiment/event reconstruction, this thesis charts interconnections between Fechner, James, the Russian avant- garde and rave culture, based on a study of their common use of waveform transmissions as a technique to alter states of consciousness. This underpins a thus far unexplored genealogy that questions the accepted discourse and legacy of its protagonists and presents a re-evaluation of the possibility of expanding consciousness by lowering the psychophysical threshold. To test and develop the threshold-lowering capabilities of interwoven transmissions of sound, light and movement, I have created a series of experimental and inter-active multi-media installations as part of the PhD research. The findings to date have shown Fechner’s and James’ hypotheses to be both relevant to- and discoverable in the Russian avant-garde and electronic dance culture. The established genealogy and the parallel design-based exploration and development of techniques to alter the experience of reality through a pro-active use of sound, light and movement aspires to provide novel creative directions for practices in the fields of music, art and architecture.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Altered States
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Architecture
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10113353
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