Memoirs of a Hypnotist: 100 Days

Image of Memoirs of a Hypnotist: 100 Days (Sternberg Press)
Release Date: 
December 2, 2015
Sternberg Press
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“An art installation that challenges [and shows] that preconceptions are the enemy of new ideas.“

Some books surprise the reader beyond expectations. This is one such a book. Marcos Lutyens, who inhabits the artistic branch of the famous Lutyens family (the other branches are architecture, music, and literature) is known especially for his installations in the quinquennial documenta exhibits of contemporary art.

In these pages he has outlined a remarkable “exhibition in the mind.” Quite unlike any exhibit readers will likely be familiar with, it aims to project a singular, and therefore unrepeatable, experience in the mind of each viewer.

The challenge sounds impossible, but Lutyens pulls it off as he illuminates his theory and approach to “guided daydreaming sessions.” He wants to shake viewers up by “violating” their expectations. In this, he appears to succeed.

Starting with observations, grounded firmly in both art and neuroscience, that symmetry is profoundly embedded in the human psyche, he begins—and here we enjoy feeling the artist groping his way into unexplored territory in a manner that is both vivid and accessible—by attempting to construct, at first by trial and error, a “reflection room.” This is literally a space in which floor and ceiling mirror one another, as do walls, stairs, and furnishings.

Its purpose is to unmoor spectators from their typical frames of reference. It forces them to question their assumptions about reality and how the world is—because how the world is, Lutynes suggests, is all a matter of perspective.

The purpose of the reflection room and similar constructions is to guide spectators through unconscious scenarios––to make them receptive, “to allow participants to enter into a state in which their minds may have been closed to them.” The artistic installations and hypnosis sessions mean to guide viewers through inner journeys of self–discovery. As Lutyens sums it up, “Preconceptions are the enemy of new ideas.”

This book puts preconceptions in their place.