Veil of Nature: Museum of Liminal Science
The Veil of Nature is a multi-platform installation created in collaboration with writer Patricia Gruben and composer Martin Gotfrit.
The Veil of Nature is an experiential, multi-sensory installation that explores the relationship between science, and metaphysics and how an intuitive process guides these sometimes polarized entities to new discoveries and new possibilities of wonder. The project touches on the nature of mind-body symbiosis; the connective threads that weave together seemingly divergent entities such as chaos and the sublime; macro and micro; science and spirituality. It also examines how within the arc of time, these kinds of relationships exist.
Using a multi-sensory combination of visual, auditory and haptic engagement, The Veil of Nature draws upon an interdisciplinary range of techniques including theatrical illusion, spatial manipulation, analogue, and networked digital devices. Importantly, the technical elements, though crucial to the project, invisibly support the tactile, embodied aspects of the experience.
Sitting in the middle of a large, light-filled room, the Veil experience presents initially as a 16’ x 16’ x 8’ tall cube covered by equation-filled chalkboards reminiscent of old science classrooms and punctuated by a single, oak door with a textured glass window. One at a time, participants go through the door to find themselves in an intimate, curvilinear corridor that spirals past floor to ceiling rear-projections of natural and scientific phenomenon. The pathway and the projections are punctuated by three interactive cabinets of curiosity, containing a range of archival and imaginary artifacts and devices. The journey completes itself within a central inner chamber that invites wherein there’s a table, a lamp and a chair. As the participant looks out to a pulsing, deep blue light, the image shifts as a live-feed portrait of the participant briefly emerge. The cumulative effect invites a reflective, meditative repose.
Relying on the phenomenological and effective results of multi-sensory, haptic engagement combined with ephemeral, minimalistic approaches, this mode of juxtaposition engages viewer/participants in a potentially transformative movement between what is familiar and known, and what is an intuited possibility. The intent of the Veil experience is to encourage people to make connections and bridges between seemingly disparate and obliquely related entities.
This iteration of the Veil of Nature was in place for three weeks with every participant experiencing the installation completely on their own. Some people stayed for as long as half an hour within the space, and dozens of people returned for a second visit. The project received a very positive response including a meaningful affirmation from author William Gibson, who called the experience “transcendent.”
Presented at the Goldthorpe Centre for the Arts, Vancouver, for a three week period in June 2013.