Tina Gonsalves, The "Feel" series: An Overview:

The “Feel” series (2005-2007) are an interconnected progression of short films and interactive sketches aiming to sense, translate and provoke the psycho-physiology of the audience. Darren Tofts writes “(with the “Feel” Series), Gonsalves’ artistic sensibility absorbs scientific hypothesis and technological possibility into an interface, a psycho-somatic stage, at once theatre of cruelty, emotional catharsis and critical insight”.[i] The series forms the initial investigations of artist Tina Gonsalves and affective neuro-scientist Dr. Hugo Critchley. The collaboration extends research in the naturalistic embodi-ment of emotion, looking at what ways art, science and technology can converge to become agents that allow us to have a more intimate relationship with our own bodies; more embod-ied interaction, tools that crossover between art and wellness; tools that interplay between the external and internal.

Each of the works used varying collaborative methods to create and strengthen empathic interaction techniques and emotionally provocative audiovisual content. Each prototype was built in a chronological progression, exploiting the achievements, and answering the setbacks of the last prototype.

TINA GONSALVES, FEEL:INSULA 2007 : responsive biofeedback installation

Art & Direction : Tina Gonsalves
Neuroscience: Dr Hugo Critchley
Hypnosis: Dr. David Oakley
Computer Science: Tina Gonsalves, David Muth.

Synopsis of Feel Insula: Feel.Insula is an intimate and vulnerable responsive video installation driven by the stillness of the audience. In a darkened space, a video is projected on the wall. It is of the artist under hypnosis. Under hypnosis, the artist is asked to re-experience potent emotional memories of her life. As soon as the viewer enters the space, the artist wakes up from hypnosis. Only after the audience is completely still does the video fall back into weaving the stories re-lived under hypnosis.

Building of Feel Insula: The problems encountered while building “Feel Inside” lead to “Feel Insula” (2006/2007). We aimed to test a more immediate and naturalistic interactive design using a camera to monitor the audience’s movement which would trigger intimate video content.

I worked with hynosis researcher, David Oakley to create the video content. I asked Oakley to hypnotise me in into states of fearfulness, sadness, happiness and calmness, re-experience potent emotional memories of my life. We used two video cameras to capture each session. These live recordings formed the content to “Feel_Insula”. The footage captured was simple, emotional and continuous, which seemed appropriate to the simple interaction design.

For the audience, as they enter a darkened space, they encounter a video projection of my face. Darren Tofts writes:

“She is encountered in a hypnotic state, at peace, silent, yet vulnerable. The scale of the projection is itself unnerving, provocative. The simple act of entering the gallery prompts her to wake up, as if in direct response to your presence. You keep still, vigilant. The artist, comforted by this quiescence, drifts back into hypnosis, speaking from the depths of her unconscious, recalling distressing memories and anxieties. The more still you remain, the more intimate the recollections become. These recollections in turn impact upon the emotional state of the unprepared visitor, who is now situated as an unexpected confidant.[i]

Conclusion of “Feel Insula”: The naturalistic and simple exhibition design was a success, eliciting a sense of presence, and empathy in the audience. Helen Sloan writes, “In becoming still, the viewer minimises their presence and almost becomes a part of the projection of the artist. Feel Insula asks us to question what is inside our consciousness through the experience of another. It is very much an analysis of the self for the artist as well as the viewer. By asking the viewer to minimise themselves in the piece, they become conscious of their presence in other contexts”.[ii].

[i] Darren Tofts, Tina Gonsalves: Unleashing emotion, Artlink, vol 28 no 2 Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

[ii] Email correspondence, June 2008