Sensory deprivation is synonymous with conditions of darkness, silence and a lack of a sensation of gravity. Perceptual/Motor/stimulus deprivation includes conditions of homogeneous visual stimulation using amongst other things, translucent goggles to create a 'Ganzfeld' (a visual field that has no contours), movement restriction and /or noise masking or enhancement. I experimented with two types of goggles -'Mindfold' goggles which are completely opaque but allow the wearer to open and close the eyes and for the 'Ganzfeld' Effect I used halved ping-pong balls taped over the eyes, this allows the viewer to experience the sensation of a whole field of light whilst being unable to perform individual pattern recognition. It was found that the translucent goggles allowed for the 'projection' of hallucinations whilst the opaque goggles did not. The audio tapes played inside the chamber in the 'sound present' experiments consisted of multi-tracked seemingly unintelligible human voices of variable speed and volume interspersed with periods of white noise, the attempt was to discern real and dilusional outcomes. Each session lasted one hour.
The Float tank
In custom designing and building my own flotation tank I was attempting to remedy a situation where if one wishes to float in a commercially available float tank you have to choose between one of only two locations in New York city. Fees currently run at forty dollars for half an hour. I would consider that to gain any real benefit in relation to my own purposes the sessions would have to last at least two hours with an initial period of attunement of around four or five floats. The cost remains prohibitive.
The float tank is the perfect 'De-conditioning' tool, since while we are floating we are completely separated from our normal relationships with the world. We can 'De-condition' ourselves from the hypnotic baggage we carry with us. Ninety per cent of all the activity affecting our central nervous system is related to gravity - the bulk of this stimuli arriving at the nervous system is from muscular activity. All our perceptions and sensations take place against this background of muscular activity, the lack of a sensation of gravity therefor decreases our sensitivity to and awareness of the external and internal reality. Like a space capsule it offers us an escape from the gravitational pull of one reality while speeding you towards another reality as yet unknown.
Outside Art, Inside the Black Room
2. The Installation
4. The Eye Scan Project
5. Art and Environment
6. The S.D. Tank Vs. the 'Motor/Stimulus Deprivation' Chamber
7. The Tank as a Tool for Aesthetic Awareness
Copyright © 1996 Peter Mackay