Hypnosis Ia (Autohypnosis)
Ana Iribas Rudin

Hypnosis I-a (Autohypnosis) (2009), premiered at the Exploring Consciousness with Art, Technology, Media and Design exhibition in Hong Kong, is a conceptual video-art piece, the first of a series of videos by the author about hypnotic phenomena. The appearance is simple, deliberately low-tech, as in the manner of a domestic or low-budget science experiment, carried out in a relatively neutral environment (with the backgrounds of raw linen curtains, and a bookshelf with volumes on consciousness). The hypnotist and the hypnotised person are the same individual (the author), deliberately dressed identically. The dual figures of subject and experimenter symbolise the two processes that take place in a self-hypnosis. The things that are said are serious, and sometimes seriously humorous to the knowledgeable public, but a naive eye can regard the piece only as a formal, serious experiment. The hypnotiser gives an initial brief induction procedure, suggestions of going deeper into the trance, and a few questions decided beforehand. As for the hypnotised subject, she is recorded in real time while she listens to the (previously edited) suggestions through a hidden earphone. The subject's reactions develop unpredictably. Later, the video is edited, cutting the parts of the hypnotiser and the hypnotised in chronological order, and making up a continuum that reproduces faithfully the sequence of events. In line with the circularity of the piece, the recording, editing and performing are entirely done by the author. No external eye or hand intervenes in the process. The video is not meant to illustrate a particular theory, but rather to play with opposite viewpoints, and to open questions, rather than answering them. Although the subject may seem to enter a trance, the ambiguity is always left open as to whether it is only a staging where self-consciousness and control are never lost. 'Insiders' of the field of hypnosis will recognise these issues: a) subject-induced self-hypnosis vs. experimenter-induced hetero-hypnosis; b) intentionality vs. involuntariness; c) dissociation; d) altered state of consciousness theories; e) socio-cognitive, role-play and acting theories; f) third-person perspective vs. first-person perspective, and the difficulty in bridging them in consciousness studies, and g) state-specific knowledge and the permeability/communicability among states of consciousness.

Copyright © 2008 The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design