Kynan Tan’s commissioned work consciousness is a feast of devastating digital audio and stunning computer-controlled visuals, exactly synchronised into jarring, sudden pulses and fluidly drifting cascades. The work portrays the links found between different human beings that are exhibited during unconsciousness. By analysing sleeping brain waves and using this data to control variables of the computer-generated audio and vision, the artist attempts to connect the real and surreal while allowing the computer to partake in the chaos, playfulness and wonder of unconscious thoughts.

The work ties Carl Jung’s idea of a collective unconscious to the autonomous re-arrangement of materials found within the vast expanse of the internet – using archived sounds and images that are decimated, processed and manipulated beyond recognition into new shapes and forms, all held within a framework of new, computer-generated imagery. Performed live on dual screens and making full use of the extremes of the sound spectrum, the performance transcends normal performance relationships to move into simultaneously physical and surreal spaces.

This scene utilises three data sets of sleeping brain activity and plots out the corresponding points along the x, y and z axis. The program iteratively works through a period of sleep, gradually increasing in frequency and amassing a lattice of interconnected points. Eventually, the dream structure becomes unstable, energised and active, moving and growing until it reaches a point of collapse.

This work was commissioned by Tura New Music through the 2010 Tura New Music Commission Prize, awarded to the most outstanding final year composition student at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA).

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