NeuroArt For The Not Faint At Heart

From http://www.theprogram.net.au/featuresSub.asp?id=3273&state=1

J ARTS CREW :: Botborg - NeuroArt For The Not Faint At Heart
By Fiona Hogg
QLD | 29.01.2006

Continuing the research of a Soviet scientist, Brisbane's Botborg make art like brain surgery.

"Once we were living in a house where there was an organ in the lounge-room and a key got jammed and there would just be this constant sound day and night. After a while you'd just forget about it until someone would finally hit a different key. A few days of that and the effect on our heads was fantastic." A spokesperson for Botborg.

Dr Arklady Botborger (1923-81). The designer of the Photosonic Neurokinaesthetograph and true believer that machines have the capacity to alter the neurological patterns of the human mind thus eschewing a new stage of human evolution. Shunned in its time as impractical for its proposed use in KGB interrogation, this dormant science has now reached its time of reckoning thanks to advancements in audio-visual technology, at least according to the sympathetically titled new-media outfit Botborg.

The work itself is an audio-visual feedback. Light is turned into sound and sound into light, all of which is projected onto an audience then fed back into the same loop. The result is a brutal audio-visual barrage, erratic as it is blinding and deafening. In effect it's something like a rainbow in a blender screaming television static. This is art that has no pretensions to prettiness or even intelligibility.

"What we're trying to do is get past these already there constructions and try and get into how the brain actually works, and how does it process information. You hear the opening chord of a rock song and it refers to fifty years of rock'n'roll history. We're trying to get past that and try to do something on a level that is very pure and that is concerned with essential forces operating through time on people's nervous systems."

In trying to force a brain to receive sound and light simultaneously and in unprecedented ways, Botborg certainly have a better technical array at their fingertips than their Soviet forbear, however the ideal of a perfect audio-visual loop is still elusive.

"Capturing the light has been a problem. Video capture cards on computers drop frames. Realistically we're not running on frame rate, for example 28 frames per second, because we've got a lot of stuff that's happening at speeds of sound or light, so we're running at the speed of circuitry more than anything."

Watching a DVD of a recent performance, it's hard not to wonder how many audience members - or perhaps more aptly how many subjects - find the whole experience a little too much to bear. But Botborg, frankly my dear, couldn't give a damn.

"I would rather have an audience really hate what I was doing than just blandly not think about it afterwards... I want extreme reactions from people because I feel there's too much art which is just safe and if it has controversial point to be made they'll be directed at people who agree."

:: Botborg recently played at the Now Now festival in Sydney, at Melbourne's Articulating Space and at Bisbane's Open Frame festival. Botborg will also feature in the Other Film Festival to be held in Brisbane March 23 26, 2006.